acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Friday, December 24, 2010

Festive Fever

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.


Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Have a wonderfully 'wild' Christmas with all your amazing companions, Val. Your suricat story well illulstrates our common need for community, companionship, touch. Thank you for sharing your stories of relationships in the amazing world around you. See you in 2011!

Val said...

Thanks Bonnie - and every good wish to you and yours too! thanks for all your kind comments on my blog :)

Chimera said...

I do love your blog Val, thank you so much! It is like molasses to me! Any pics of the Fat suricat? Have a wonderful joyful elephant filled (within reason) Xmas.
T xxx

Lori ann said...

dear val,
ah wise and good advice, i love how we can learn so much from our wild (and pet) friends. like mafuta knew, every effort towards connection and attention and affection, was bound to be rewarded one way or another! and we must never give up making these connections in our lives.
hello ellie! hi chameleon! Merry merry Christmas Val and K, enjoy your day together (sounds romantic)!

Lori ann said...

i forgot to say how clever you were for using fabric for wrap! did you tie a kanga around the gifts? a kikoi? what is it called in s.a.? i love mine, the blue one you sent, i'm using it for a tablecloth at the moment!

Val said...

Tanvir - thanks ! ah no - ridiculously few pics of Mafuta time - cant think why. sheesh. great pics in my head though of special times with him x You too have a fabulous festive time with that magical hound of yours xx hugs to both :)

Lori - its so true- we always have so much to learn from our connections with other species - they give so much it is humbling.

yeah yeah - i copied your idea. Everyone veryimpressed. Had some cool fabric offcuts - mainly zambian cotton - used those :) glad your kikoys is in good use. enjoy the day and the making of fresh memories xx

Anonymous said...

Would have loved to see a picture of the fat suricat too. Thanks for a wonderful, thoughtful post about the potential loneliness of the Christmas season. I had a similar thought. Have a blessed Christmas.

Penny said...

We too are on our own this Christmas, at the beach and tonight it will be roast duck, after beach walks and phone calls from all over the place from family and friends. A lovely thoughtful piece about the suricat.
Merry Christmas.

Kate said...

Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of children who believe all around the world. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

~Happy Christmas and Merry New Year from our family to you and yours

Janelle said...

beautiful writing val! hope your christmas a deux was just as you had imagined it to be...much love xj

Val said...

lgsquirrel - i couldnt think why we have so few pics of that time, then i remembered -they are all on dvd tape and need to be converted to disc. then i can print some frames. HOpe your Christmas was happy and fun?

Hi Penny -that beach looks awesome! roast duck and phone calls - perfect :)

Kate - I am so pleased to hear this - and yes, i guess he is still alive in my inner inner child too :) thats the magic we always look for i suppose?
yes - love devotion and generosity are at the heart of this occasion - merry Christmas to you too

hey Janelle - did the gorilla find his way back???? many thanks we had a perfect day - so so lucky. how was yours? hope you all had big fun xx

ok few days to rest now, and then its NEW YEAR! hehe enjoy enjoy everyone x hehe and what will your resolutions be this time?? love all round xxV

Anonymous said...

I love your opening paragraphs!

Am still a bit of a grinch though ...... Or maybe too independent ... Or too happy in my own world.

How do you feed the molasses to the ellies? I have this pic of them hanging around the backdoor looking like mammoth beggars waiting for their 'Xmas box'

The view pic is breathtaking


Angela said...

What a beautiful post, as ever, Val! So many unusual, wondrous-sounding plants, animals with beautiful names, pictures in my head (I need no photos, you make my imagination spin!)... We are the ones in knee-deep snow. Today we took a (cold) stroll to the icy beach, with ice-mountains on the shore, sorry forgot the camera. But the swan got his hand-fed bread crumbs on the way. So we all had a wonderful Christmas here, too! Much love from far away, but near at heart!

Val said...

Janet - stay happy :) we put the molasses out in a trough type thing and they kick it around when the molasses is finished - more fun x

Angela - wow ice mountains on the shore - you have to take a camera next time! how different can two places be?? x

glad to hear all went well - now for New Year xxV

The Solitary Walker said...

I know what you mean about Christmas, Val. Best not to expect too much and then we can't be too disappointed! I think it can be a very difficult time for some. Anyhow, hope you had a great one, and best wishes for the new year!

e said...

Before reading this, I had never heard of a suricat...

Is it true that an elephant with its trunk up symbolises luck or good fortune?

I'm glad you had a good Christmas!