acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Summer Swelter







Lying in bed I feel  like my internal radiator is overheating. There is not a breath of wind and the hot air sits heavy on me like a large invisible elephant.  I get up and take a cold shower allowing the air to partially dry me before trying to sleep again. Mercifully before dawn there is a convection wind that sends dry leaves raining down on our tin roof. Breathe deeply - cool air - not cold but cooler.


We take an early morning drive out as the sun inches higher behind the tree line -  breathing cool dust laden air . The wind dries my eyeballs, reminding me of a Rolling Stones song from way back when. The song runs around my brain repeating half remembered words.  A hyena comes running in to the waterhole flicking his tail. He lies down quickly in the muddy water, drinking it in and lying in it at the same time.


Baboons arrive. The whole troop walks purposefully in. They are earlier today than usual. The hyena is lying down in the water blinking slow blinks - keeping an eye on the comings and goings from the water.  Baboons watch him warily and settle on the opposite side of the water, leaning forward to drink - rear ends in the air - tails hanging in a row.  Having drunk their fill they file off to the shade of a small hebaclada thorn bush resplendent with yellow pompom flowers. They rest in the shade - mothers feeding small babies, bigger babies hanging on the branches.


The hyena lies flat all day. We start to wonder if he is sick or injured in some way.


There has been an elephant in camp all day. He has been keeping a low profile whenever we walk or drive past.  He has been peacefully feeding- leaving large brown droppings along the pathways like giant bran muffins gently steaming. He is hardly visible amongst the greying leaves and tree trunks.  Sometime after midday we see him hurrying to the waterhole. The hyena is forced to move away from the waters edge.






Clearly the elephant's  radiator is close to boiling as he spends a good half an hour sluicing water onto his parched feet, and throwing water over his back and ears, fanning his ears constantly. Finally he starts to relax and after a long drink he slowly walks off into the grasslands for a change of diet.


The sky is no longer blue, but a soft dust grey.


Evening, and the convection happens in reverse. A welcome breeze cools the sweat running on our bodies and faces.  The yellow grasses glow brighter in the late afternoon sun - outshining the sky.


The sun sinks - a giant dayglo beachball in the sky. It descends slowly through the layers of dust fading inch by inch. Francolins proclaim the end of day loudly calling from their vantage points. Daylight ebbs away and the sky belongs to the stars again.

24 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

What a beautiful account of a day in Botswana! It is so foreign to this North American mind - so exotic - as if I am reading a description in a novel. But it is your life!!! Amazing. I would so love to be able to watch an elephant . . . however, I do not envy you those sweltering, hot, dusty conditions . . . Sounds oppressive for you and the wildlife.

Janet said...

Fabulous writing!!!
Rains are coming - I can almost feel it.

Work heat is on big time here!
Oppressively!

Maybe relief will come for both of us on 6 October. . . .

Rob Inukshuk said...

Yet another evocative post superbly crafted. Yes, I know that heat and dust...you make the memory come alive for a few fleeting moments...ah Africa.

e said...

Beautiful post...Thanks!

Fire Byrd said...

wonderful writing, so evocative I could almost feel the heat.
Hope the weather changes soon for you and the animals.
xx

lakeviewer said...

Heat and dust, and animals all needing respite. I'm reading holding my breath, hoping calm prevails, noting the discomfort your words evoke. Beautiful descriptions. Thank you.

Angela said...

Maybe you should have joined us in our bath in the Baltic Sea today - the water had around 16°C, very refreshing!!! I just love your word-paintings, Val!

Marilynne said...

I simply eat up your posts. I'm sorry you've been so hot. It's good to know how life goes where you live. Good and bad and just the always.

Kristin said...

I can feel the weight of the air in your writing. How wonderful.

pink dogwood said...

you write so beautifully - sending some cool thoughts your way.

karen said...

Oh my.. you describe it so well! Those bran muffins - what a wonderful description! x

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Not sure why I can hardly ever see your photos. Loved this line- Daylight ebbs away and the sky belongs to the stars again.
Lovely.

I think the heat is staying by you. Here winter keeps threatening to come back eventhough I have made my feelings well known about him.

Val said...

aah thank you all for your very kind comments and taking the time to read x i think i have now managed to get the photos up - hope you can see them? we wonder if that heat is building for rain, but its a wee bit early .. off to visit your blogs now. Some major catching up to do!! blog on xxV

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Will you please collect these writings into a book!!! You evoke such wonderful imagery and write so very beautifully.

Marilynne said...

Hi Val! I left you some information about solar power on my blog http://marilynnesmith.com/blogging.

Thanks for visiting.

Marilynne

Verily I go. said...

JEEZ VAL, honestly. I'm sitting at my desk right under the AC vent and it's now sweltering and I am parched. Amazing, beautiful words that become paintings to my mind. I admire/adore/cherish you, sharing. Thanks so much.

Angela said...

Yes, now the pictures have appeared! Wonderful! I absolutely agree with Nicky - go and publish that book! If you want some co-comments from Germany, let me know! I can write about the contrast to my Sea-Life here with plenty of water and only moderate temps in summer, snow in winter and foxes and moles and wild boar as most exciting wildlife... I just LOVE that visiting porcupine in your loo, and of course the lions watching TV from outside, and all the elephants and warthogs on your lawn... Some pictures never leave me. Please share with the world!!

Lori ann said...

Geli said it all! And yes! the photos came up, great. The first ellie looks dream like. So cool.Or maybe its Your writing that makes me dream. Lovely

Val said...

Ab Van - thanks for the encouragement, i am trying to think of a way to get started...


Marilynne - thanks for the solar info!

Verily - glad you enjoy - your upbeat comments always bring a smile :-)


Geli -that is so cool - thank you!

Lori - elephants are good dream material...

Tessa said...

Val, I've said it before and I say it again, you are truly a magician with words. As AA says, you simply must collect all these evocative, superbly crafted stories and publish an anthology of your work. Every single one I have read is, quite simply, sublime.

Thank you, too, for being such a loyal bloggy friend during my frequent absences from the Blogosphere lately. I hope now to be back, writing and reading, at full steam!

Now I'm off to play catch-up on the rest of your posts. xx

Tessa said...

PS. You don't have to think of a way to get started - you already have! ALL your posts are worthy of publication.

Vagabonde said...

It is so nice to look at your pictures after looking at all the flood pictures from around here. The sun has finally come back though and things are starting to dry out. Thank you for commenting on my blog.

Reya Mellicker said...

I am always transported utterly and completely by your posts.

Love the scene with the baboons and hyena at the watering hole. It's like a scene at a bar in DC, Democrats and Republicans eyeing each other at our version of a watering hole.

What a day! What a life you live. I do hope all of summer won't be so hot. xx and oo and love.

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