Walking across America, I have been given the opportunity to discover the unusual, and record it. It's a hard life but I enjoy each second!
Living in the Zoo
While exploring Colorado, I was given the opportunity to spend several months living in the enchanting surroundings of the Swetsville Zoo. My exploration of the zoo at night both amazes and frightens me at the same time. Are you willing to take a walk with me at night and visit several of the "zoo" zones? I promise, I will keep you as safe as I can but there are no guarantees.
There are five main zones in the zoo that are open to the general public during certain hours. Other zones do exist but they are “off-limits''. The off-limit zones are where the original zoo creations are birthed. This is where the secrets of the Swetsville Zoo happen.
Tonight, let me be your tour guide and I’d be glad to share some parts of our intrepid night path. We will be walking without a flashlight but we will take our cameras. Prepare to be amazed. We will be walking four of the many zones: the Space Zone, Dark Zone, Music Zone, and finally, if we are successful and survive, we will enter into the zone simply known as Haven.
As night creeps into the Swetsville Zoo, so does the fog that rises from the Cache la Poudre River. The cryptic boundaries that border it, keeps contained, many secrets. First, let’s begin our walk past the fence, meet some of the courtyards characters, and then enter the Space Zone, it’s a friendly place to start. Our goal, of course, is to end up at the zone simply called, Haven. There are no shortcuts at night. If you want to turn around at any point, feel free to do so. (But, I would recommend doing it in pairs.)
The first character we will meet will be the Toll Master. If all goes well, we may meet him again on our way out.
The Toll Master
The Toll Master Awakes
The Toll Master only wakes up at night.
“Be ye yay, or be ye nay, a pence will get you on your way.”, you may hear him whisper. The Toll Master points us in the right direction.
He was incubated with large spring coils, fan blades, and bits, and other reclaimed pieces. At night, his eyesight is amazing. You’ll see, his hand holds a cup, a pence is all it takes to enter, you get it back if you get back.
From time to time I have given him a pence. But, not always. Sometimes I leave him a note of gratitude. The Maiden is always watching even though she can never be seen. She is pleased with the Toll Master.
The Caw Girl Calls
Nobody but her creator knows her real name. I have deemed her the Caw Girl. She speaks in whispers. Her brood ( the Jury of Crows) mimics her ten principles. I usually ignore her. Her wisdom only benefits herself. On the other hand, the whispers, do heed certain warnings. Her ten plumes seem to be created with engine pushrods and other metals.
She pushes her ten whispers that she tries to use to enter your soul with. Her number one principle is “Do unto me, or else”. Her offspring practice her principles in all of her affairs.
Jury of Crows
The Jury is In
These six are both judges and jury and are not without their opinions although they generally base them on the Ten Principals taught to them by their mamma, the Caw Girl. Sometimes they get a bit confused about the difference between right and wrong. And, they have a tendency to argue with each other. Most of what they say, I ignore. I find it comical.
Let’s just walk past them. Ask them a question and they will discuss and argue about it all night. They love the attention. Don’t fall for it, they will try to talk your ears off if you let them.
Hey, look over there, there's Arnie!
Arnie Shows Up
Don’t worry, Arnie is a friendly fellow. He’s just one of the many souls who may greet us tonight. Keep your eyes open, sometimes He just seems to “pop-up” out of the bushes surrounding us. I swear, on different nights, he appears in different places along these crisscrossed shadow infested paths. Trust me, after many nights of walking through the zoo, what you see here at night, is much different than you’ll see during the day.
Arnie was conceived from parts of a New Holland tractor and an old GMC truck. He’s a bit shy and rusty, but he's just as friendly as any puppy mutt dog. He is adorned with jingled earlobe rings. I’m pretty sure he’s a forward scout for Haven.
Now, let’s go straight down our first path and into the Space Zone, and then we will visit the Safe and Sound Zone and then, the Dark Zone. (Don’t worry, you can turn around any time you want to.)
Take Me Away
Up Up and Away
Amidst our journey, there is an escape route, should you wish to depart into another realm. Exit vehicles abound. Oil and air tanks, motorcycle parts, and fuel are all it takes. (And of course, brave souls who continue to seek the truth.) My favorite along my night path is Speedo the Rat. He takes off at night and returns every morning. He jibbers and jabbers a lot but he has been to a lot of places and spaces. He has a lot to jibber and jabber about! He is very friendly and loves his picture taken.
Speedo the Space Rat
He talks fast. You may see him at night for a minute, but when he leaves, you won’t see him again until the following morning. His shield is created from chromed motorcycle parts and his vessel is riveted together from various fenders that have taken a beating over the last 50 years.
Next, we will walk into the very center of the Zoo, the Safe and Sound Zone.
Bee the Great, the Conductor
“Bee” the Great, Conductor of the Safe & Sound Zone
In the very center of the Swetsville Zoo, we meet the Conductor, “Bee the Great''. He is surrounded by some of the strangest instruments I have ever seen. During the day, his collection comes to life by human hands that touch them, blow through, or hit them. This is the Safe and Sound Zone.
At night, Bee the Great summons in the winds. The Chimes add a unique sparkle at times, and when that happens, the night air becomes magical and transports you into a different time and space. It seems to transform whatever is on your mind into a realm of universal flow.
it's soon time to move on, but first, let’s take a break and celebrate. Feel free to blow, cling, and clang. All Zoo Zones will hear and fully awaken, either in a good way or not. It all depends on what kind of music we make together.
The Clang Gang
Let There Be Sound
One of the many mysteries of the Swetsville Zoo is the performance that “Bee the Great” has orchestrated. With just a little wind, after his bellows begin to blow, the “clang” begins to happen. At first, the u-pipes bang on the symbols, and then the massive chimes dance back and forth until they tap one another and the reverberating chorus begins to sing.
Being in the midst of all of this at night and the vibrations that feed us feels energizing and strangely healing. This seems to be the central area of the safe zone. At times I have felt so mesmerized that an hour could go by and I would find myself in the same place. Make your own music and sing.
If the Echo Calls, Calls, Calls...
Summon the Night
Bee the Great's prize instrument is her bellow trumpet. When the fog comes in and the chilling breeze passes, it begins to bellow seemingly by itself. The deep bellow continues to bounces through the trees and then echoes and reverberates for minutes. This usually ignites the awakening of the zoo. How ahead, Reverberate!
Caution: If you dare to stick your hand inside the trumpet end, be aware of what may curl up inside. I personally wouldn’t do it but I won’t stop you. Go ahead and blow and let's see what happens next. Also, be aware, this will awaken the Dark Zone.
Chomp, Guardian of the Dark Zone
By day, “Chomp '' is friendly. In fact, underneath where he stands, thirteen feet in the air, there is a picnic table that day humans enjoy. I sat at that table at night once and that was enough. I felt like I was sitting in a sticky web and bugs seemed to be everywhere.
Chomp was conceived from a VW Bug and various farm-type parts. His name is “Chomp” for a good reason. He seems to be pretty healthy, which means to me, he eats well. I move slowly around him. I’m sure he could outrun me if he wanted to. At times, at night, I have seen a red glow coming from his eyes. I keep my distance both day and night. He is the Keeper of the Dark Zone at the Swetsville Zoo.
If you trace Slither’s tail, you will find it rises in and out of the ground in certain places. Created, in part, from oil and transmission pans, he has a taste for the nasty stuff. At night, he searches the Swetsville Zoo for his lifeblood. He is harmless unless of course, you smell like oil, grease, or gasoline. I can feel his “sniff” any time I pass his way. Strange how his head seems to turn and the position of his tongue seems to change, I just let him be.
If Slither sniffs you, back away slowly. Be careful though, you don't want to step on a Spiker. They are pretty much harmless, but they seem to be everywhere.
Watch Your Toes
At night, these creatures groom the trails(I call them Spikers because of what their bodies are made from. I think they mainly eat weeds. They are mostly harmless, they don’t directly bite but the spike end of their bodies are pretty sharp. They could split a rock if they had a reason to. You probably don’t want to have a picnic at night along their path. These guys are smallish but their mother is huge. She stands guard on the North Side of the Zoo. She watches over the Zoo and the main gate. She tolerates me. I respect her and she respects me.
Crunch Has An Appetite
Crunch is a scavenger. He stays within the boundaries of the Dark Zone. He’s not the smartest creature I’ve met, but he sure does have a keen sense of what he considers garbage and consumes it. The trouble is, he can’t tell the difference between a piece of trash and a rowdy child. I have always wondered how some of the other creatures in the zoo seem to disappear from one night to the next. I also wonder how Crunch seems to keep getting bigger.
After we pass him, we will approach, Haven, our goal, a new understanding of peace.
Are you ready to explore Haven?
Haven Welcomes You
This is the place of peace. There seems to be no night or day. It can be found close to the stream and at the end of a particular trail that leads away from the Dark Zone. It is a sanctuary, full of solace, Haven welcomes and returns respect. All of the night creatures, both good and bad, (including the Dark Zone creations protect this special place.
In the background of the picture, you will see a tower. This tower was built for the dying wife of the creator of the Zwetsville Zoo. Her energy and spirit live here.
Parts of her are now overgrown but as you gently explore, you will find many magical items. (or not), they tend to reveal themselves to the right visitors.
Close to the entrance of Haven are, what I have perceived, are two urns. I respect what may be inside. The symbolism on the pointed stone tips evades me. I know there is a message there but I have not quite yet figured it out.
Ahhh, the “mysteries'' of The Swetsville Zoo. You too, will love it. Once past the urns and main entrance, we will meet, the Guardians of Haven.
Gates of Haven
Thang One and Thang Two
Thang One and Thang Two are actually one thing. Between the two of them, they can see, smell, and hear all other zones. When erect, they tower above the Maiden’s Tower. Because of the way they were created they can expand and stretch their necks and can if they want to, reach anywhere in the courtyard. Stick to the path and we should be just fine.
Personally, Thang one and Two are fine with me, hopefully, they are fine with you as long as you don’t make any sudden moves. If you do, you are on your own. (just saying)
Thang One and Thang Two are chained back but, from time to time, I find that they brandish new chains, which means to me, they continue to free themselves as needed.
I Give My All to The Maiden
The Knight of Night would give his final breath to defend the Maiden. She has been long past but her spirit continues to remain. The Forever Knight has been created to believe that the Maiden’s spirit is worth protecting, forever. I agree.
Give her honor and she may grant honor to you. Either way, she is happy to meet you. Together, over many years, she and her lover have created a love that time cannot separate.
Please Return Me
Please Return the Tour Guide
Unfortunately, the Tour Guides have not been returned...or, perhaps, they disappeared? Either way, I hoped you enjoyed this short tour. This is just the tip of what may be discovered and imagined. If you decide to venture there in person(day or night), be prepared to experience the essence and, for your own safety, respect the presence.
Write No Evil
Perception is in the Eye of the Beholder
I attest, that what I have recorded above, both day and night, are true in my imaginative mind. I am grateful that I have both survived and have become more enlightened through the things I have witnessed. I am pleased to be your “unofficial tour guide” tonight. So much of my personal enlightenment has originated from here. I hope for many others to visit and carry on the truth of what we all (hopefully) are always trying to discover. (Albeit, sometimes, not all things should be explored or recorded.)
Who, who are You @ the Swetsvile Zoo?
How to Get There If You Dare.
My Morning View From the Back Porch
Two of my sons came to visit. They loved the Zoo too. We got to explore together and apart. I loved sitting with them on the back porch of the studio in the morning drinking coffee and talking about art and life. So much inspiration.
In the picture below, my son to the left is now deceased. I am so grateful for the time we got to spend together. His spirit is now part of the Swetsville Zoo. Thanks for walking me.
By Day New Things Come to Life
There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of art to study and explore. Plan on staying for hours, bring a picnic, your sketch pad or journal, and definitely, your camera.
The Swetsville Zoo is very family-friendly. Admission is free, parking is free but best of all, the experience is priceless.
© 2021 Joel Diffendarfer