Friday, January 28, 2011
K and I are both orphans at this stage in our lives. K's mum was the last parent to slip through the portal.
She was a tiny feisty woman with the daintiest hands and feet i have ever ever seen. She always walked tall and was always elegant and beautifully presented. Apart from her sons, she loved nothing more than to drive endlessly through elephant country viewing these mighty creatures in their home fields. She loved to talk and socialise, but she was always silent in the elephant fields drinking it all in.
After one of her last visits, she left a beautiful card thanking us and enclosing an amount of Rands to spend on something we would both enjoy. We found it after she was on the plane back home.
Years have passed but the card and its enclosed gift had been kept safely for some special event - a dinner or trip or something. I moved it from place to place to keep it safe, and now and again it would resurface reminding me.
This week we took the card and booked into Shingwedzi camp in Kruger National Park for the night. We drove slowly through the elephant fields and spent time with giant bull elephants as they rested, or fed, or travelled, or jostled with their mates. We had dinner in the restaurant and breakfast the next day at Mopani camp overlooking a huge rainfilled dam. We felt her presence with us all the way and it was a day she would have loved.
I keep thinking, how wonderful to leave a small something, that can be treasured and enjoyed long after you have shuffled off the mortal scene. Something that is not a Will or a legacy - a simple gift that says so much and keeps the connection alive and real.
Thank you Dot - and yes I will refresh the card for another date
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.