acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Thursday, August 27, 2009

red carpet hour

The hugely talented Nicky, at Absolute, and whose prolific writing and creative imagination have me awestruck – has very kindly listed Monkeys on the Roof on her roll call to receive this illustrious award. Thanks Nicky!

The award is the Kreativ Blogger award and the rules are:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.

3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.

4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.

5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.

6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.

7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Ahem so seven things about me that might be interesting….even mildly….thinks…

1. I first popped into the world in Canada – New Westminster, BC. Apparently it is beautiful there though I have yet to return. We left when I was small (was there ever a time?) but I think I get visceral memories when I see north american scenes, lakes and coasts with big pine forests. I own an inch of a totem pole somewhere there, but still haven’t found the certificate to prove it;

2. I did schooling in England and often still miss my English friends and life, but I have an amazing African life – living in wild beautiful places which is full of adventure and wonderment;

3. My sister had a horse called Kennedy who had a huge barrel chest and frequently ran away with me like a express train – all well meant of course but I am of the sack of potatoes style of riding. He also used to stumble mid gallop. It’s a wonder I stayed on at all – and I didn’t always. I still love horses but prefer ones that can stop when you want to;

4. Monkeys have been thundering up and down my roof all day.

5. I once did a bike trip through the Kalahari with my friend Pam to prove we could. It was the best fun.

6. I love clear night skies and the change of seasons, my wonderful friends, reading a good book, hearing lions at night, dark chocolate, being in the blogosphere, listening to elephants browsing quietly, the smell of first rain, having water on tap, that first cup of tea, laughter, incense, music, art and the miracle of life; and so many more things..

7. sometimes I wonder…………..

The seven Kreativ Bloggers I nominate – and this is the toughest part – what only seven?? – and trying to avoid those that have been nominated already….

Petie at Verily I go

Bonnie at Original Art Studio

Tam at Fleeing Muses

Pink Dogwood from Wandering Mind

Kathryn from Last visible dog

Chris from Middenshire Chronicles

Lauri from Thoughts from Botswana

Janelle from Ngorobob Hill House
Janet from Under a Blood Red Sky

Dear Lauri from Thoughts from Botswana gave me a beautiful award some time back, and nows the time. It was the Friendship Award

Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers.

Kristin from Candy Sandwich
Miranda from The Times of Miranda
Janice from Life in Matthews
Nicky from Absolute Vanilla
Tessa from Aerial Armadillo
Reya from The Gold Puppy
Lori from Lori Times Five
as always if my links dont work please look on my sidebar.

Hurrah! Congrats everyone and Blog On xx

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.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

sunday ramblings

Sunday morning - bright sunny and cool. Yellow billed hornbills on the
deck eating seed. If we are not prompt with putting the seed out they
launch themselves at the windows with an almighty bang. Then they
stare sideways with a bright beady eye.

We finally caught the mouse that has been living in our cupboards for
so long. We watched him licking the peanut butter off the trap the
other night. He seemed invincible. The trap was so sensitive you
couldnt go near it without snapping it on your fingers yet he was able
to move all over it without getting caught.

Last time we returned to Selinda we found he had made a lovely home in
our cutlery drawer, and all the kitchen cupboards were liberally full
of mouse poo and wee. Everything had to be washed and boiled before we
could even have a cup of tea.

Trouble is he was quite cute actually and I feel the inevitable
sadness at his demise. But there is a big world outside the door where
mice can run free and make nests wherever they like. RIP little chap.

We had dinner last night with our friends who run the concession. We
sat out on the deck while intermittently chasing the hyena away. Their
house is a wooden frame with canvas and gauze panels. This hyena has
been known to break into their house from time to time. We heard
elephants screaming and trumpeting on their way to water. Always an
primeval sound in the dark.

We went to the channel yesterday again. The water is racing towards
its final hurdle. There is a big pool to fill and then an uphill slope
before it can connect. Will it make it? It might just.....

We are getting ready to leave again. So although we still have time
here, our heads are halfway between here and there. We are going to
try a different road out of here which will be fun, although there is
a big sand ridge to drive over and that can be slow and tough on the

I am making bread this morning. Our supplies are running low. A
buffalo bull lumbers past slowly walking like an old man with gout in
his ankles. Its awful to leave now. What if we miss the channel
meeting? the change of seasons bringing the elephants back in; a
buffalo herd moving into the palm islands; lions, cheetah, leopard,
wild dogs.. all the activity that will happen while we are away. But
change is not a bad thing and the contrast will make us hurry back.

I started reading a great book - "Home" by Marilynne Robinson. A gift
from my sister and significantly perhaps, a theme of resolving family
issues and 'stuff' carried around. The writing is absorbing and
eloquent, there is a sense of inevitable tragedy alluded to through
everyones pain, and the habit of apologising to each other after every
direct statement. Apology and forgiveness hand in hand. I am hoping to
steal five minutes with this book again sometime today.

This evening we will return to the Spillway for sundowners with our
pals. It is our great addictive soap opera at this stage - speculating
on how far it will have travelled each day and when/if the two arms of
water will meet. Then driving home through evening skies of lilac pink
behind towering palm trees.

Are sundays different? to me there is always a certain peace about
sundays. A justification for stepping back and taking time out -
because its sunday. Wishing happy sundays to you all!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jump and Spring

I took these photos at the end of the water the other day. Baboons
apparently dont like getting their feet wet. I can understand that
many must get taken by crocodiles while drinking at the waters edge.
Perhaps some even drown when they fall out of overhanging trees. We
had fun watching this group face their fears at this small ribbon of
water in the Spillway. The more experienced ones walked through
carefully holding their tails high. The younger ones delayed the
moment until they were at risk of being left behind by the troop.
This fear was greater than the fear of water and they leapt high -
each with an individual style.

Two days ago we saw a wall of smoke over the north west horizon.  Villages seasonally burn grasses to create more grazing and also to clear lands for planting before the rains.  It was around the time of the full moon traditionally meant to herald a change in the weather. This fire was obviously a long way away but nevertheless, the smoke gave us a fabulous sunset.

Since then a warm soft wind has distributed the smoke haze over the entire landscape and suddenly it feels as though summer is on its way in.  The distant tree line recedes in shades of blue. The sky at the horizon is a soft dove grey fading to blue in the giant bowl above.  The full moon has been true to form again and spring is in the air!

Last night the floodplain was full of kudu, wildebeest, tsessebe, lechwe, and impala - golden in the evening light.  Flocks of waterbirds are arriving on the flooded grasslands and frogs can be heard calling throughout the day.  Also I am wearing about three less layers of clothing!! A change of seasons is always such an exciting time and we are so lucky to be here now with so much going on.

PS A big thank you to all of you who have left your lovely comments on my previous posts. I have been unable to upload my comment form to leave replies but really enjoy reading them all. The fact that we have any kind of IT connection out here is nothing short of amazing to me, but it is sporadic and moody and sometimes will not let me in at all. So thanks for hanging in with me. I have been able to read some of your blogs by downloading and saving to file. When we return to the 'real' world there will be much catching up to do. Blog On!! xxV

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The end of the water

The temperature dropped considerably around 4 am this morning. Lions
started calling. We interrupted sleep to try and home in on their
direction. They used the floodwaters like a giant lion phone -
carrying their calls far into the dark night.

First light and coffee in hand, we headed out to look for them. We
found tracks going this way and that. We followed the freshest tracks.
Large pug marks laid precisely over the round wrinkly imprint of
elephant tracks . Scanning the flood plains on either side, we
finally lost the tracks when they disappeared into the tall yellow
grasses. Ghost lions.

Pressing on into the bright morning, we drove towards the Spillway. On
the way we speculated on whether the Okavango water would eventually
push through to meet the Kwando water of Selinda. Last time we looked
there were two kilometers to go. If it meets there will be a party in
celebration. A fire will be lit between the two waterbodies- to be
doused as the flood progresses. In a desert country this is such big
news that the press will also be invited.

But today we have the Spillway to ourselves. Bright blue water in a
sparkling channel between giant leadwood trees, rain trees resplendent
in hanging seed pods, ant hills and countless game paths leading into
the forest. Along the edge of the water a bright green ribbon of
fresh growth, then endless sand.

We are skeptical but when we see how far the water has progressed
since our last visit five days ago, we change our minds - maybe the
Spillway could flow again after all. It is 27 years since these two
bodies of water last connected. We have lived through the drying up
years. To see it turning full cycle and becoming a water-world once
more is indeed a wondrous sight.

Flocks of birds mark the waters progress. Marabou storks, saddle-
billed storks, herons, egrets, stilts, glossy starlings, fish eagles,
kingfishers, hamerkops, plovers and a pelican carefully eye the waters
progress. It starts to fill a pool of water, running in rapids over
the drop between ground levels. As the water levels rise the birds
move in - herons and egrets line the edge of the pool, poised to
strike, they soon start catching small fish. Activity levels rise
and the pelican paddles in. He scoops the water with his bill like a
catch net. As he catches something he closes the bill and lets the
water drain out before tipping his head back to swallow his prey.

The activity is riveting and we watch spellbound noting all the
different fishing techniques and levels of niche requirements. The
marabou storks arrive walking in a line like constables at a crime
scene searching for clues. The pelican maintains his high speed
paddling and scooping routine which is proving highly successful. The
bright white egrets and herons keep their poise and choose their time
to strike.

Baboons arrive on the scene. The birds take off in a vast white
whirling flock.
Baboons stop to pick some small herbs, bending to drink at the waters
edge. One by one they raise the courage to cross the stream at the
narrow rapids. The brave ones walk slowly through tails held high.
The less brave jump high into the air. Nobody waits for anybody else.
The troop moves on into the tree line. The last ones to cross have
been trying to act unconcerned, and using displacement activity to
avoid the moment. Finally the time has come - they jump high. More
birds flee. Once across they burn off adrenalin by running full speed
to the forest.

Steadily the white cloud of wheeling birds returns and settles by the
pool. The pelican resumes his feast. A fish eagle calls loudly and
the water continues to edge slowly but surely up the channel bed. The
bets are on - want to play?

Monday, August 3, 2009

dawn patrol

The last few days have been still and quiet. Where is everyone?
Elephants are coming onto the floodplain at night for some reason. We
see their tracks everywhere in the cold morning sand. They are like
ghosts at the moment.

Distant lion calls and tracks on the road. We have been driving
diligently looking everywhere. Water sparkles invitingly in the midday
sun. At last it is warm on our backs - but not for long. The water
reflects ice blue, darkened in swathes by the winter wind.

I am awake in the night often. This is one place where i look forward
to the nights - never knowing what we will hear or what drama will
unfold in the bright moonlight. Lately nights have been silent as if
Selinda is holding its breath until summer warmth arrives.

This morning at last we found him. He was walking down the road
towards us, looking for the rest of his pride. We followed him through
the long tawny grasses until he lay down next to an ant hill and
started licking his paws - it had been a long patrol. We left him to
sleep and will check in again later.