Our daughter was born in this beautiful city. She nearly chose to make her appearance into the world on a long hike up Lion's head three weeks before term. Borneo tried to drag me up the cliff face to the very top and I had dug my heals in, refusing. This was a fortuitous decision because not long after we had turned back we experienced the famous 'table cloth' of clouds that drapes over Table Mountain and Lion's head, leaving us with very obscured vision and a long mist-blinded walk back to the car. It was at this time that I started having labour pains and visions of our child being born on the side of the mountain with the baboons as midwives.
Soon after the birth of a beautiful baby girl, we transferred to Johannesburg against all of our wishes but to where life was leading us. Here, we experienced my second connection with South Africa this week, the bush. As you can see to the side of my writing, I am reading another book which written by a safari guide. To add to this as I opened my emails yesterday morning, the picture below of a leopard in all its magnificence jumped out at me. "Look what we saw in the Kruger Park is weekend" read the caption. I am immediately transported to wide open blue African skies with warm sunshine and dry dusty air of the African bush.
We have spent many happy weeks in the bush being with all kinds of animals who shared their beauty and lives with us unconcerned by the intrusion of our presence. Much to the envy of others, we were blessed enough to see the Big Five on our first game drive alone into Kruger Park and we fell deeply in love. Every time we went out, there was something special to see - birds of a myriad of colours, vultures sitting loftily on dead branches, lions lying lazily in the shade of acacia trees, kingfishers darting their iridescent colours along river beds, crocodiles and hippos wallowing in the water or wild dogs and their pups playing at the edge of a muddy water hole. The silence and energy in such places is not easily described. Places of such beauty and contrast.
Sometimes, Borneo and I were alone and others we were with family or friends. There were champagne brunches cooked over gas fires after long early morning game drives before retiring to bed during the heat of the day with fans whirring noisily ahead. Then out again once the intense heat had eased to watch sun sets over open escarpment from lookout points at water holes where elephants and their babies came to drink at dusk.
At other times it was just the two of us quietly sipping water, drinking coffee and eating rusks at a picnic spot before stretching out on sleeping bags under the trees until the afternoon drive, then back to make a fire and cook something to eat under stars set against a deep indigo sky. Once a green mamba dropped out of a tree above us and slid passed indifferent to our frozen terror as we lay a couple of meters away. We have been herded by elephants and chased by rhino and I would still go back in a second.
Such a deep yearning came over me and I wanted to head for the airport to board a plane. I best not tell Borneo or he will be packing bags immediately for both of us. He loves the bush far more than I do.
Leopard Photo - P.Distin