I love my town, and I’m incredibly curious about the world, but I generally avoid super-popular touristy things, because so many feel overcrowded, over-managed and overly dumbed-down. (And yes, I may also be just a teensy bit cantankerous) ;o)
HOWEVER – Nada’s relentless energy (and curiosity no less than my own) has successfully drawn me into sampling several different events which I might never have tried otherwise, and in every case, I have been utterly fascinated by the extra perspective I’ve gained. Break all habits and patterns – still excellent advice for turning the creative sod – got to aerate those tangled-up roots a little bit, every now and then!
Last Sunday it was Ripley’s Aquarium – and I was amazed at how much better a thing it was, than I expected. Ontario had an intense period of institution-building a few decades ago (60s-70s) – when many very cool public goods were created (TVO a superb educational TV station, the Science Centre, Ontario Place, new community colleges, etc) – this left me with the idea that major educational venues ought to be publicly funded. After seeing Ripley’s, I’m not so sure anymore – kids don’t stay kids forever, and of late, governments have had trouble finding money enough to keep pace with essential upkeep and renewal for facilities already built. Far better if it exists for the city kids (who could access no other equally-emotive marine-connection) than not.
First off – for the cynics who’ve never been to Ripley’s – no, there are no cetaceans being held prisoner whatsoever (nor would I attend anyplace where there were). Secondly, aside from profit, the mission of the entire project really is to educate kids, and instil functional compassion for wild species under threat, just as much as it is to fascinate – no wait, actually it’s even better than that, and by a huge margin.
Again and again, I heard parents and children sharing the wonders before them, while quoting interesting factual information about the species back and forth to each other, from the very well-placed plaques and diagrams. They set it up in such a way that it’s easy for everyone to sound smart to each other – a truly brilliant trick. (Remember what I said about learning and emotion? Feeling clever and proud works beautifully). Parents can answer ‘why’ with confidence – and kids can be precocious, really earn those sweet proud smiles. Lovely!
Everywhere we went – the kids were absolutely enchanted – and I was thoroughly charmed by the interactions overheard. One father with his ultra-cute and excited daughter saying, “Yes honey, there are mucho Dorys,” pretty-much set me up for peak-smile all day – and that was only twenty minutes in (we spent three solid hours, and could easily have lingered longer in several areas). To see so many inspiring and hopeful interactions between young parents and their kids was a definite positivity charge – and of course, as an already-noted infinitely-curious type, my education-head was also having a blast.
Camera-lad too, was utterly entranced by the subjects (though he had a bad day by-ratio, for lack of more careful consideration of the parameters of the problem). Low-light on high relative-speed subjects, makes for a definite challenge – ought to have set for forced shutter-priority and just let the noise creep-in as it insisted (no real stretch, for the idiot who used to shoot handheld ASA1600 analog available-candlelight weddings, just to be the only one who caught the genuine ambience of the night!) Next time I’ll have a plan, and do better.
Thankfully, I didn’t come-up completely empty (the universe, as also previously noted, really does love a tryer).
What really surprised me, was that rather than hitting a new benchmark for personal science-photography, I instead hit new highs in photo-surreality – as the three images interspersed herein, have (hopefully) already suggested. From top to bottom:
Looking up and watching fish swim overhead was wild – and that lucky (and completely irreproducible) grabby-hand mountaintop in the background just makes me giggle with delight! Love the accidental ‘river’ too. Fun!
Such a great knowing smile, right? Surely, if any fish was ever a good candidate for coughing-up a great big gemstone in exchange for a simple favour from a wanderer (as indeed, often happens in a certain tranche of very precious stories) this beauty must qualify. Prime emerald-fish, defo – why, he’s even got a conspiratorial look in his eye! And finally:
Which should have simply been a shot of two red lion-fish crossing paths – but instead got altogether trippy and mountainous on me!
I know, I know, I really should have put-in a looping switchback path, running up the side of that steep broken slope, and added more definitional clarity to that forbidding blue-grey tower, perched on the plateau just below the peak.
Tell you what, just sharpie-it-in with your mind for now, ‘kay? Danke-muchly!