Summer is sparkling green – a world of butterflies and birds bringing the landscape to life with their fluttery business. Grass grows before our eyes forming lush dark jungles that the guinea fowls can hide in. The trees are resplendent in their summer dresses, and creepers grown on creepers, that grow on creepers. Leaf shapes fill every niche in the hunt for chlorophyll. The day is shiny bright so you have to squint, and the suns embrace can squeeze you dry. It's not intentional just over zealous.
It is Christmas Day tomorrow. We have some fairy lights blinking on our candle tree – a metal sculpture of a baobab tree. There are some presents at the base wrapped in fabric and tinsel – recyclable. The idea pinched from Lori’s blog. Thanks Lori. Tomorrow we will be home alone – dinner a deux. I will roast a small turkey and we will have a jolly table in the cool of evening. It feels luxurious not to be racing in traffic to some coastal destination that will be crowded with people and motorized toys. But I will be thinking of absent friends and family – all far away. Some knee deep in snow.
Our Christmas shopping this week consisted of a drum of molasses for the elephants, and a new rain guage for the lions to play with next time they come through our garden. It has been a while since the elephants were in this part of the reserve, so we are really enjoying their return. They love molasses too, and if they catch a whiff of the molasses drum on the back of our vehicle, it gives rise to much trunk waving as their amazing olfactory equipment picks up the slightest hint of fragrance on the warm air.
Christmas promises so much gaiety, festiveness, joy and reunion – though for some it is a difficult time. Maybe too many memories resurface, or they are alone in a world of frantic connecting. We are social animals after all.
Once we adopted a suricat. It was someone else’s problem child. They had loved it as a needy young thing, but when it hit puberty and began to assert itself, the biting got out of control and he was dropped at our door. You see these enigmatic creatures on Nat Geo – they live in communities in the Kalahari and are entirely engaging. They are social animals too and we love to watch them integrate with each other. They are not meant to be alone. They get miserable and it stresses their hearts. But someone is breeding them and selling the babies as pets.
We called our guy Mafuta meaning Fat one. He settled in here, bonded with me which was lovely, didn’t bite K much, or Rayson. He had the entire garden to forage in and all the juicy crickets and scorpions he found there were his! So he began to grow in size, in the manner of many of our politicians.
Initially he slept in my bed. It was endearing the way he clung onto my ankle deep under the duvet and slept there. But as it became his territory, he began to urinate in the bed at night leaving a particularly strong musky smell. Finally we had to draw the line. Hugging during the day was fine, but at night he had to stay in the kitchen. It was a heartbreaker. He would come throughout the night and scratch at our door, then go back to sleep alone in the back of the fridge (there is a cosy space there).
I could talk about Mafuta all day – the fun stories and times we had with him. How much he taught us. But what I mean to say is that a suricat is not meant to live alone, they need community and contact. People are the same. So no matter how much you ‘bah humbug’ about the festive season it can heighten a sense of loneliness – which is part of the human condition.
One thing I love about this season, is hearing from friends and distant relations, that I would surely have lost contact with in the mists of time were it not for this annual
There is an energy about this solstice time, winter or summer, which cannot be ignored – it fascinates me in a way. With this condition in mind, you may as well focus on the inner child and allow the magic of giving and receiving, reconnecting with long lost friends, and strengthening those family ties, to distract you. So in other words – go tinsel crazy and have as much harmless fun as you can think of with your nearest and dearest. That way you will know what your New Year’s resolutions will be.