Self Portait With Elephant
I had a childhood dream to do a self portrait with an elephant (I just adore elephants) and after a previous encounter with an elephant named Siri at the local zoo, I decided to "ask for what I want". I'm not religious, I don't pray to God. I "communicate with life", as the character Maude, in one of my favorite films (Harold & Maude) said. I emailed the director of the zoo, and after our phone conversation he agreed to grant me my wish. I knew I would need an assistant because once I set up the camera and framed the shot, I wouldn't be able to push the button. I asked my friend Julie if she would be my "button pusher" and she agreed to do it. (Then my husband took Satch and me to a little mexican joint for a celebratory dinner...cheese enchiladas...Satch loves 'em!)
And THIS is what I plan to teach my son: If you have a dream, a vision, a wish, and idea...try to make it happen. Never be afraid to ask for what you want.
Saturday morning we drove up the service entrance of the zoo and walked to the elephant barn. It was quiet and we could smell the scent of animals as we approached the barn. Once inside, we saw Siri and I was amazed by how much larger she appeared indoors than outdoors. Walls and a ceiling give a different perspective. Mick and John, her handlers, greeted us and took us to the yard. It was overcast, but I took a quick look at the sky to make sure that the sun would be behind the camera and set up the equipment while John went to get Siri. A few moments later, they appeared. She was magnificent with wise, amber eyes. With Siri in the view finder, I adjusted the tripod, set the camera, and framed out the shot. I let her sniff me before I approached her. Then I wrapped my arm around her leg and stroked her, leaning my body against hers. She leaned back...an elephant hug. It reminded me very much of how a dog leans into you when you're petting it. Her skin was both rough and soft like velveteen tree bark. I could smell her breath, hot and sour like wet hay on a summer day....her skin, earthy, musky, mammalian. She was gracious and patient while the photos were taken and we thanked her for both the photos and the wondrous experience. We thanked the handlers too and after John brought Siri back to the barn, I asked him a few questions about her. I learned that we have a few things in common:
Siri: 39 years old (but believed to be in her early 40's based on her characteristics);9,600 lbs; vegetarian; likes jelly beans; She is an artist. (Is it any wonder that I was drawn to her?)
Wendy: 42 years old (but believed to be an old soul); 110 lbs; vegetarian; likes Jelly Bellies; Also an artist.
We walked back to the car still absorbing our magical experience with the scent of the wild on our skin and our clothes.
Namaste, Siri...from one who loves elephants.
"They are incorrigible tons of strength and harmony. Their hide is ancient, their eyes sweet, they roll in dust to cool off, they make their own showers. They know how to frolic out under the sun. They're learners. They do not forget, and they don't hold grudges." -Bradford Morrow (A Bestiary)
To see the entire photo set, click here!
Dream BIG, my son!
Labels: out and about