Monday, January 24, 2011
It was a hot summer day. The kind that makes you want to run for shade. Sunlight shimmered off emerald green grass. Distant hills in razor sharp detail etched a line between the endless green and the deep blue skies where lumpy white clouds massed and gathered. A big bull elephant moved slowly through the lush grasses pulling up bunches of green as he walked, and waving them high before cramming them into his leathery mouth.
His one ear hung tattered and torn, flapping loosely in time to the rhythmic waving of his other perfect ear. It told of battles won and lost along the ancient pathways of the elephant fields. He moved steadily straight towards us filling my lens with his giant shape. He was caked with mud, clods of which sat in a ridge down his spine, andclung to the deep wrinkles of his skin- like a mountain of earth come to life. Liquid golden eyes looked down at me, focussing sharply - waiting for me to move out his way. He drew himself up to enormous height. My camera pointed directly up now, and we stared - golden eye to electronic eye. There was a moment hung in time. Steadily the earth mountain creature swung his great head away and he moved off into the track behind us continuing on his way. I breathed deeply. Wow.
All across the curve of the earth within our lowly view, elephant bulls fed, grazed, slept, drank from pools, splashed in mud wallows; they greeted long lost pals, and moved away ahead of old adversaries. Summer is their time. Elephants prefer grass, and for now, there is an over abundance of sweet long waving grasses. The tensions of late winter months are gone.
We had gone to this elephant country to escape from our world for a day - to clear the clutter in our minds and feed our souls on the natural world.
Further down the road another bull elephant stood splashing mud over his body from a pool next to the road. He cared little about us, but continued splashing each and every part of his body, swooshing his trunk over his face and eyes. Another bull arrived. They were clearly pals and greeted each other with gentle trunk waving, inserting the tip of the trunk into each others mouths. The second bull began the same procedure. As they parted ways again - one to the shade, the other on another path - there was an interlude of parting gestures - gentle trunk caressing of ivory.
I love to watch elephants walking along a well trodden path. The rhythm of their gait, and ears flapping like sails catching the wind, remind me of giant galleons on a course at sea.
Further on, another elephant in the shade used the rough bark of a tall acacia tree to scratch every part of his mud caked body. He manouvered around slowly, enjoying the feeling, and leaving a fresh coat of mud on the trunk of the tree. He had all the time in the world - there was no need to rush.