acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Monday, August 17, 2009

night vision

Evening is falling softly like winter leaves onto the dun landscape. A duiker antelope picks her delicate way across the garden. I use the term 'garden' very loosely here to describe the immediate area around the house. Our lawn has long been excavated by warthogs in last years drought and anything vaguely flower bearing and exotic has been consumed by the ever watchful monkeys.
The light fades to sepia – a stage before the monochrome of starlight.  The light from the TV gains strength in ambient darkness and flickers across our faces. My eye catches a movement outside. Against the corner of the house something moved grabbing my attention. I stare hard out through the big windows that fill the end wall.
A dun shape – quite big – broken by bare trees. Lion! Within touching distance of the glass.  She stares back at me.  The tv is flickering brightly all over my skin and the volume suddenly seems unbearable. Noise for Noise's sake. Shhhhh. I feel floodlit while she rests in camouflaged shades of shadow and vestigial light.
Another lion comes up behind her, and she moves slowly across our view into the 'garden'; a young male lion joins them. Each pauses to stare at us through the glass for long seconds before moving on.  The first female finds a place to sit and observe on the edge of the grass. The young male investigates a garden tap. Please don't bite it we implore speechlessly. 
The surrounding energy levels are fizzing and crackling with tension. The tension of their finely honed bodies and our undiluted attention. Predator easing past prey. Two cubs bound in from the periphery; sub adult size - they leap and play. Lion shapes barely discernable now against the grey rocks and sands. Tips of ears, tails, mouths and eyes still dark enough to contrast.
Then… a big male lion eases past the corner of the house. He stops, nostrils raised. He stares at each of us in turn. Breath becomes shallow – or maybe I wasn't breathing? There is a pane of glass between us. I remember learning that glass isn't solid but is really a mass of moving atoms. Right now it feels like water. We stare back while he decides what to do. The annoying TV light continues to flicker alien messages that ricochet around us. The remote lies beyond reach.
Aeons later, he turns… away from us…. and joins the rest of the pride at the edge of the grass. Their shapes now move like phantoms. We try to keep track. Is the back door closed? The guinea fowl are silent in their hock – most unusual. Surely those cubs would find them impossible to resist.  Some strange noises emanate from the garage. They are all around the house now. Calling to each other. Watching us.
Darkness has fallen and they are beyond our primate vision. The windows are black – impenetrable. What you cant see will not keep you awake ok? Tension disappates. The lions have gone walking – hunting – off into the reserve.

31 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Oh my - the tension and excitment in your description is palpable. My heart is beating fast - your beautiful writing made me feel like I, too, was right there! How lucky you are to live in a place with such awe-inspiring scenes - right outside your window!!!

Val said...

Bonnie - thank you! i have got my eyes open tonight for sure :-)

Adrianne said...

Ah, Val. How you write. How you write. I am reentering blogland this week after a long absence (new job is fun but intense, plus Jeff's daughter lost her battle with leukemia, so I haven't had a lot of time (but I'm taking this week off)). I'm delighted, and comforted, to see that your blog is beautiful as ever. I particularly liked this post -- I have always felt a kinship with lions.

Lorac said...

Amazing! Great story. I would have been scared out of my mind I think. I take it, that it is not a good idea to wander around out side at night where you are? Thanks for the beautiful writing!

Janet said...

OMG Val!!!!

The hairs on my arms were standing on end as I read. Mentally my eyes looked around your lounge to see which the doors were open. . . .

whooooo hoooooo

love your writing!!!
xxx


maybe they were waiting for the weather forecast on the telly

NanU said...

An incredible experience! Don't ever get used to it!

Val said...

adrianne! how lovely to see you back. So sorry about Jeffs daughter though - that was sounding so positive. Condolences to you and all the family.xx

Lions have been a bit of a theme round here these past few months - they certainly get your attentionx

Lorac - definitely best to take a torch if you MUST go outside at night. There is no moon at the moment either.

Janet - luckily it was a cold night; if it was summer those doors would have been wide open. Note to Self.

xxxV

Angela said...

Oh Val,I am only now catching up, and my hair is standing on edge. This is such an incredible scene - boy oh boy! I am looking out of my window pane, imagining a lion staring back... When will they detect your blog as blog of note, I wonder?!!!!

Val said...

NanU - I cant!

Angela - thanks but am happy being unnoteworthy and enjoying all the comments from my bloggy pals! It was an amazing moment in time tho x

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

I had a friend visiting from Maun on Sunday. She says there have been some daring attacks of lions recently there. They seem to be getting too used to people. Please be careful.

Vagabonde said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. I read your last post – it’s quite impressive. Well written – English must be your first language? I wish it had been for me, because when I want to express myself well, it comes out in French in my mind first. And most impressive also is the location where you live with wildlife so close – we have wildlife here, but it’s more urban, like skunks and possums. I went back to read your comment on Bonnie’s blog to see how you answered about fear, but you did not mention lions, you mentioned elephants. The only close contact I ever had with a wild animal like that was in a wild park in Montana, close to a bear. I’ll come back to read more of your interesting posts.

lakeviewer said...

My goodness, you got my attention from the start. What tension, what atmosphere all around your place. How leary, in the dark, in the stillness of the night, to think that out your window a pride of lions can make you feel so small.

Val said...

hi Lauri - uhoh that sounds bad! not in Maun tho surely? Lions have a way of reminding us of our place in the order of things. Its humbling!

Vagabonde - your English is perfect! didnt know it wasnt your first language. The feeling lions give us is entirely primate - like the joy of being near fresh water. Thanks for visiting.

Lakeviewer - yes - strange to think when the windows go back they could be there..........
:-)

xxxxV

Val said...

i meant 'black' ...

karen said...

what an amazing experience.. i enjoyed the idea of the glass being made of moving atoms.. wow, Val!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Oh Val, I found myself not breathing and aware of the buzz of my computer as I read your post. How frightening yet oddly exhilarating. It is amazing to think of living in such a "wild" environment. Thanks for the beautifully detailed story.
Lizzy

Fire Byrd said...

What a fantastic post Val,so atmospheric, I could almost feel your fear with the glass being the only protection. And then the thought of the door maybe being open..... oh my!
xx

Pam said...

Oh.My.Goodness. There is no way I would venture out at night in future after that. Carrying a torch just means I could see what I was in for. That's mesmerising but also terrifying! I was chewing away at my thumbnail while reading that, well past what's comfortable - then pulling away at the roll-neck jumper. That was some post!!

Val said...

hehe I am glad you enjoyed the spine tingler. It doesnt happen everynight - or ... maybe it does....

certainly puts you in your place to be stared at by a super predator!

xxV

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow!

I wonder what they're thinking when they see you, wonder what they make of the flickering TV screen. What an odd juxtaposition! Hard ... no, absolutely impossible for me to imagine. I always say this but thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life. What a life!

Nice new page color. xx

Val said...

hi Reya - yes must be wierd for them too. Extraordinary moment indeed and oddly if we move they run away...mostly....

glad you like the new colour - was time for a change with the season and kind of lion colour-ish

xxxV

Rob Inukshuk said...

Val, it's all been said, so WOW, Awesome, speechless and thank you!

Lori ann said...

that's what i was thinking, lion colored, beautiful.

Val,oh my goodness you can write. Where is your book? your talent is remarkable, please consider it(if you haven't already)

lions outside the window, good grief... :)

xoxo

Val said...

Rob and Lori - thanks! you are too kind :-) it was a pretty amazing sight. Strange how the scale shifts when seen up against our own familiar constructs.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Wow, and double wow, what an experience, Val. Sheesh! And as ever, of course, you relate it perfectly.
And because you do, there's a little something for you at my place! xx

pink dogwood said...

There was a racoon on my deck a few months ago and there were some deer in the backyard. There are a couple of foxes that used to stare me down when I used to run in the morning. So that is the extent of the wild life in this suburban maryland home - well, there are some teenagers loitering around at dusk, but I think they are fairly safe :)

But, oh my god - lions???? I would be so scared that I would not leave the house for ever. This is so scary and so exciting at the same time.

Be safe!!!

Kristin said...

Wow. Deliciously scary and beautiful and utterly surreal.

tam said...

bloody scary man. do take care.

i like the yellow too.

Val said...

ah Nicky - thanks for the award - i am hugely honoured x

Pink Dogwood, Kristin, Tam - scary it was, oh yes, and exciting and somehow a big honour? that make sense? i was especially glad to find the back door was infact closed :-)

thanks for all the lovely comments xxV

Delwyn said...

Hello Val

that was a great piece of writing - full of tension and perfectly paced...I was wondering if they couldn't smell you through the glass, though they would know that humans were resident wouldn't they, from smells outside...

Is this a common occurrence Val?

Happy days

True Blue Texan said...

Amazing as always, Val. To live so close to nature is something that is so foreign to me, being a big city girl. To have such a group of magnificent creatures wander by your living room is astonishing. For me, at least.

You keep writing and I'll keep dropping by to get a taste of Africa.