There are elephants all around our house this morning, eating our island of trees. Awake before sunrise, i stumble over to the kettle and light the gas. Staring out the window into the middle distance I realise those are not trees I am looking at but elephants legs. There is an elephant standing next to the track feeding on small bunches of leaves and sticks. They are so quiet when they are here.
The sun tips the horizon flooding golden beams through what is left of the island forest. The elephant moves slowly towards the house, munching along the way. We hear - or feel - a deep rumbling sound. A small breeding herd emerges from the forest on the left to join up with the first elephant. Some stay and browse, others move out onto the sunlit floodplain.
The wooden house creaks and pops with the wind that follows the sun. We move around inside from window to window as the elephant feeds directly below us. I can see how neatly her ears fit together on top of her head. Her trunk curls up to strip some leaves near our window. We could reach out and touch her - but then the moment would be gone and so would she.
Clutching cups of coffee to warm our hands we move out onto the deck and watch the herd spread out on the floodplain among the hebaclada bushes. A young calf - maybe two years old - spreads his ears and charges at shadows. He has tufts of hair inside his ears. He comes our way to join with his mother, forcing his way under her chin into that special zone that is his alone, for now. His mother keeps on feeding but the touch is there.
A buffalo wanders in from the west. The elephants turn to face him, ears spread- curious, alert, defensive? The buffalo lumbers along a steady path right through the nest of elephants. They follow him to the water hole. He doesn't look back but quickens his pace a tad. The elephants are on the point of chasing when he turns suddenly and they back off. It looks like a game.
Successive elephants arrive at the waterhole. Each one spreads its ears and faces the buffalo who has turned to stone - sunlight glancing off the tips of his horns. They hurry past. A youngster trumpets loudly and then hurries back to his mothers side.
Golden sunlight floods the scene, and then vanishes behind a cloud leaving the world a sadder place. The ambient temperature drops with the disappearance of the sun. The world has turned grey and cold. Not a moment too soon light bursts through the clouds again dazzling us with its star quality.
A deep sonorous rumble from the matriarch calls the herd, and one by one they join ranks and head back into the distant forest for the day. The buffalo stands alone. Next time i look, he too has gone and there is only the wind through the sunlit grass.