Full Moon & Lions
I went to bed last night staring at a near full moon over my thatched roof hut. I am staying at the guest quarters in the Savory camp, which they call Baboon Camp. It is about 1 kilometer from the main camp. To get here one walks through the bush. I just did the walk, alone, about 5 PM. A solo walk through the African bush with the sun already getting low. I’m told that 6PM is the latest to be walking through the bush this time of year. I can’t even begin to describe the sites, sounds, and feeling. Of course it’s only a 12 minute walk, and Jody and Allan and the house keeper, Thulani, do it all the time, but it was my first such adventure, and it was indeed. Not externally. It was calm and uneventful, fortunately, but the primal nature of the experience was an event without compare. I carried a stick and stone, and Allan has told us that when he has been charged by a lion and he didn’t have time to cock his riffle, he lunged toward the creature and roared back. This startled the lion who then turned and went away. I’ve seen people do the same with charging dogs. If you just take a superior stance and go on a counter attack, toward the creature, it backs off. Not that this is anything I want to have to do, but I have had to take that strategy with a charging dog and it worked. Anyway, lions rarely are out until well after dark, but as it turned out that night, they were at the kraal (stockade) intimidating the cattle by 7:30 PM, only two and half hours after my walk. That is extremely early for them to be prowling around. Lions aren’t even the greatest fear for humans here. Elephants and buffalo present a more chilling terror, and indeed their toll is higher. All are abundant in these parts. The lion counter strategy may not work on them, as they will likely be in numbers. Non-the-less, this is the natural order of things, and the timeless beauty of the savanna. A simple late afternoon walk here is a passage through the heart of time – the warmth, the dust, the smells, the bird calls, the breeze, the ruffle of the grass, the long shadows, the haze, the glare, the persistent yellowness of dry grass, the knowledge of what is shortly rising just beyond view, or beyond the hill or river bank. It is God’s carpet, and a solo human is a small thing indeed, not even an ant, yet all the wonder and fear are beyond capture. Today when I repeat the journey. I’ll leave no later than 4:30 PM.