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Food for Thought: Sunlight, Sea Lions, and Chocolate Candy

Joined: 11/12/2014
Posts: 2
It was always parked in between the Komodo dragons and the sea lions—the old-fashioned white buggy with giant spoked wheels and red chipped lettering. The ornately adorned horse would stomp and kick at the asphalt and buck up his giant head in the speckled sunlight beneath the Spanish moss and Oak tree canopy.

My mom would hand me a quarter, and I would run up to the buggy which towered so far above me that the candy man inside would have to stick his head out of the window and look down at me to ask, “chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?”

“Chocolate!” Always chocolate.

He would pass down the parchment paper wrapped chocolate roman candy and I would run back to my parents and then off to watch the sea lions swim around their habitat with movements and expressions that always made me feel like they were almost as human as me.

Dad never liked that candy.

“They have to put their bare hands all over it when they make it,” he said. That combined with the ever-present smell of animal habitats always just turned him off.

But I loved it all. The warm candy, the whinnying horse, the sour smell of the animals, the humid New Orleans air, and the speckled sunlight through the moss draped canopy of the giant oak trees all culminated into one perfect feeling.

Komodo dragon, candy, sea lions. It was the part of our zoo routine that I looked forward to the most. Watching the lazy reptile through the thick glass, my mouth would begin to water, and I could almost taste the soft chocolate taffy as we walked up the paved pathway that winds through the exhibits.

Then one day things changed.

Paper-wrapped candy in hand, I ran up the wide steps toward where the sea lions always were. But where there should have been splashing animals, there was an empty pool with dead rotting leaves littering the bottom and mosquitos colonizing the stagnant remnants.

I wrapped up what was left of the candy and walked defeated back down the steps.

It’s a hard lesson to learn as a child, that things don’t last forever—that traditions and routine comforts inevitably change and evolve. Sometimes pools dry up.

But even today, when I pass the white wooden buggy that now roams the city outside the zoo gates, I am overwhelmed with warm memories. I can see the lazy reptile in his home, smell the animals, and my mouth still waters for the sweet chocolate candy that binds it all together in my memory forever.
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Food for Thought essay being selected as our first place Adult Essay for November 2014.

To view all the results of our November 2014 contest, please check our winners page on or after December 31st:

We will be contacting you via your registration email with more information and prize details.

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 5:13:15 PM
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