Amakhala…Game Drive

Another Day Another Sunrise

With over 240 different birds in Amakhala…no sounds of morning traffic…I woke to lovely songs of the birds…Mr. P grabbed his binoculars to tell me the names since he the avid birder…I just enjoyed the melodious sounds…opening the tent to sunrise light and grabbing a cup of coffee…I crawled back between the warm covers and just luxuriated between the sheets…no rush to get anywhere…time just delightfully relishing the morning until the grumbling stomachs forced us from our indulgent pleasures…

September is still a little cooler and I debated whether to shower in the “great outdoors”…thinking I might have to contend with something besides Mr. P and the chilly morning…picturing Norman’s trunk coming over the top…closing my eyes and I could imagine being in the middle of the jungle under a waterfall…only with warm water…I do think Tarzan would approve…definitely a repeatable pleasure-loving experience…

A short jaunt to the dining room…friendly morning greeting and smiles…no skimpy buffet…an eye pleasing array of cereals…fruit…cheeses…jams and all the accompanying accouterments…the fresh air is a great for the development of monstrous appetites…so we dug in…several times…breakfast was leisurely…the butler then handed us a menu for a “hot” breakfast…we had no idea that we had that option…vacation and over indulgence are a synonyms…do I need say more…

After breakfast we sat on the veranda outside of the lodge and watched the antics of the Nyala and Impala as they grazed the grounds…and Big Daddy trying to keep his harem in line…

Grazing Female Impalas

As a photographer…I couldn’t sit still for long…after running breakfast off…lunch was served before our game drive…there are not enough superlatives to use…

The mist was nippy and enveloped us with a cool hand…provided with warm ponchos and rain gear…it didn’t stop us…hopping up on the land rover…we were off with one of the most knowledgeable guide that I have come across with…

Game Drive View

Our guide would stop and show us indigenous plants that were used for natural medicine…such as a plant that if you pricked your skin…it would go numb…used for toothaches…species that were used for colic and almost anything that ailed a person…you forget what people did before there was a doctor a phone call away…we made a special stop so he could show us this particular spider that he watched spin and weave…never a question that he didn’t answer with pleasure…and I’m sure he heard them all a thousand times…

Surreal & Beautiful…it was like living inside a movie scene..

Every moment was full of amazement…but if I had to choose one favorite scene it would be the magnificent lion brothers…it was misting..yet there they were sleeping as though they had not a worry in the world…mist on their manes…sparkling like they were sprinkled with diamond magic…we turned the engines off and just watched them…

They are brothers and appeared almost human in the way they behaved together…I could just image the older one thinking…”sheesh, such a clown”…and then the younger rolling over and putting his paws on his brother…”but I just Looove you, bro”…

Giraffes are fairytale animals…beautiful faces with big eyes…I have this fascination with them…maybe because it was the first animal that I saw in the wild when I arrived here in South Africa…there is something so regal about them…

“A giraffe is so much a lady that one refrains from thinking of her legs, but remembers her as floating over the plains in long garb, draperies of morning mist her mirage.”

– Isak Dinesen

I am at a lost to describe the thousands of Mother Nature’s miracles that we saw that day…I do hope that you enjoyed the game drive too…❤

There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature.  

~Aristotle

~Sent with Love, laughter and magic

Amakhala…Nature in all it’s Glory

“The beauty of Africa is not man made, it is natures gift to humanity.”
― Paul Oxton

When life becomes hectic and emotional turmoil…the panic…agitation…and confusion surrounds the soul…John Burroughs said it best…”I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”

Amakhala is such a peaceful balm…nature’s delightfully restful and calming potion

Situated only about an hour (84 km) from home…a luxurious Safari Lodge is hidden in a valley of native bush…Amakhala is home to 5 of the 9 plant biomes here… the most common biome is the Albany Thicket, which is made up of dense shrubs, herbaceous plants and succulent trees…

Mixtures of Rich and Subtle hues being brushed against the canvas of the evening sky

This is a “Certificate of Excellence” award winning four star safari lodge…beginning in 1999 as a joint conservation venture between 6 families that were direct descendants of families that settled in the area in the 19th century to farm sheep and cattle…little by little the land was rehabilitated and animals that had freely roamed the area were reintroduced

One of the unfortunate consequences of Pandemic has been the loss of bookings in the tourism industry…with an unbeatable package deal we were able to book a 2 night, 3 day Safari package…a new mind boggling event in my life living here in South Africa…

I felt like I had been dropped into a magical wonderland…better than any “rabbit hole” I had gone down before…the colors of this world…the natural smells of earth and nature…the exquisite culinary tastes…the feeling of peace and calmness that can only be found in the wild…

Greeted by the most warm and amicable staff…we were immediately made to feel right at home…Norman being the most surprisingly unexpected of our welcoming committee…

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

~Henry Beston

Norman is the wrinkly grumpy old man bachelor that freely roams the park…after luggage drop off and stretching legs…we had almost gotten to the parking area and out of the bush comes one of the largest elephant that I have encountered…and I have never seen Mr. P. reverse so quickly…Norman just slowly ambled down to us…taking his sweet time to come and investigate who the new interlopers were…

Like a crotchety old geezer…didn’t care that his lunch crumbs were still stuck on his truck…he continued to snack while he contemplated whether we should be allowed to stay…finally deciding that we were harmless…he slowly sauntered off in search of more twigs and leaves to fill the never ending elephant pit of a stomach…an elephant’s life…eat…sleep…and poop…eating about 16 hours out of the day…sleep 4 to 6 hours and producing lots and lots of manure…200 to 250 pounds per day… oh, and produce enough methane gas – LOTS AND LOTS OF GAS😂…Properly equipped, a car could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day https://elephantconservation.org/elephants/just-for-kids

Quotes about Elephants (182 quotes)

I just adored the time worn gnarled and tuskless Norman…he made the entire stay specially entertaining and we missed him when he left to wander far from the camp…

A refreshing chilled glass of lemonade while checking in and then we were escorted down a path winding through native brush…escorted to our tranquil suite…tented and thatched…the perfect combination for me…I think it was what I’ve heard described as “Glamping”…the experience of the “Great Out Doors” with the essentials of mattress, indoor toilet and running water…this was the epitome of elegance and good taste…wrapped with the wonderous sight, smell and energy of nature in all of her abundant splendor…

After a deliciously scrumptious dinner…warmed by the fire and conversation with new friends….we were escorted back to our hideaway…with all the fresh air and excitement we fell into an exhausted sleep….dreaming of all the wonders that the next day might hold…

“A well spent day brings happy sleep.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Focus your intention on your dreams, you can wave magic when you set your heart and mind to it – Author: Miranda Kerr

Rising from the Fire

Loneliness in a new country is almost a given…everyone experiences it…developing new friendships is a critical component to healthy and happy living in a new place… It has definitely been more than challenging in this smallish town where everyone knows everyone and the past presence of someone causes defenses and walls in people…but following a reigniting passion of mine…it was found… a small community of photographers here that both Mr. P (even though he is not a photographer) and we find warm, accepting and kind…

It still takes time and I have had to do my part by attending virtual meetings and outings…even when I felt like crawling back in my safe secluded shell…the art of photography is my passion…a way to savor life…a story that cannot be adequately be told in words… and now I have the chance to immerse my head, heart and eye in creating again…to blow on the minuscule embers of a past dream… I owned my own photography and art studio back in my 30’s…the dream had faded and hope dissolved when I had to sell all of my photography equipment…photography often does not provide a sustainable income for a single woman…moving onward…I finished my business degrees…and the rest is a history of working in Manufacturing…pretty far from my right-brained preference of creative pursuits…

Last month I entered photos in the club’s photo competition…after a great deal of persuasion from Mr. P…being the perfectionist that I am…I can always find flaws in the photographs that I take…but to my delightful surprise…I won two golds and a Certificate of Merit… for the Emerald Spotted Dove I took at Addo Elephant Park…

On the latest excursion with the club…we met at the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve…one of the oldest reserves here in South Africa…The area and river was named after Marthinus van Staden, one of the area’s pioneering farmers. He was also among the first to plot a rudimentary track through the valley…it is one of the best spots to see flowering proteas in season…the calm warm spring morning showcased the splendor of the Eastern Cap’s floral kingdom at its finest…

Enjoying the extraordinary diversity and splendor of the natural Fynbos, succulents and other indigenous flora was definitely the agenda of the day…even the bees were doing headstands in pleasure with the abundance of the sweetness of spring in all its glory…

There were many types of indigenous flora and fauna to indulge the eyes and nose with…but the proteas are the most numerous…proteas date back approximately 300 million years… considered to be among the oldest families of flowering plants on the planet…

Given their name in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus…Proteas are named after Proteus, son of Poseidon, who could change his shape at will…due to the fact that they have such a huge range of shapes and sizes…they are commonly called Sugarbushes, as a result of the amount of sweet nectar they produce…the reason for the excitement of all the bees

South Africa’s pride and joy…the King Protea became the national flower in 1976…The king protea is the largest species…1 of the 330 species here…btw Australia has the largest collection with over 850 different species… It has a large flower head with petals resembling a crown and can grow up to two meters (or up to 6 ft.) high. They can produce as many as 10 flower heads in a season.

The protea is an indigenous flower of South Africa…and was chosen to represent the beauty of the land and people, the aesthetic harmony of all its cultures, and the hope of South Africa flowering as a nation…also symbolizing the continuous change and gradual transformation of the variety of cultures among the people of South Africa…

A malachite sunbird finds a landing spot. Photo by Jay van Rensburg…
web_photo_PE_fire_100617

We were amazed at the prolific amount of the exquisite floral beauty there was to photograph…in 2017 the flower reserve burned with a massive fire in the area…

No matter how hot the fire burns, a Protea always survives.

~Ab De Villiers

‘When we get a fire like this our instinctual reaction is to feel a lot of sadness for the loss of our flora and fauna. But this flora is adapted to burn, it needs to burn to live,’ ‘If fynbos doesn’t burn every 15 years or so we lose a lot of species, we lose a lot of diversity from the system and the system effectively starts to wind down and die. Fire is really important. It’s really a rebirth for the ecosystem.’

Dr. Adam West
Vibrant and unique…Proteas, which are a type of fynbos, are referred to as a pyrophylic or fire-loving vegetation, and in need to burn every few years to survive. Like the phoenix, they rise from the fire

Fire plays a role in germination and it also acts as a mineralizing agent. Some fynbos species will die when it burns and regenerate from seed stored in the canopy that is only released after a fire, while other species build up seed stores in the soil…Seed germination is stimulated directly through heat and indirectly through changed environmental conditions caused by a fire.

Dormant buds survive the wildfires that so often clear the dry Cape land, only to emerge once the fire has gone out. The plants are hardy and can withstand the toughest of weather conditions. One thing that ties all of the differently shaped and sized proteas together is their root system. The proteoid root system allows them to survive in soil that isn’t rich in nutrients…This thick underground stem contains many dormant buds…these will produce new growth after the fire…

May our roots be strong in faith and love so that if our world is burned to the ground, and we feel devoid of everything… we will survive and be reborn stronger and more beautiful…

Often from the ashes of who we were, we rise up and become who we were meant to be…our souls are indestructible and our ability to be reborn from the ashes in our lives will remain as long as our hearts beat…I am living proof💓…sent with love, blessings and magic for your life….

35+ Phoenix Quotes for Rebirth and Rising Up - Resilient

Umbulo the Dung Beetle Extordinaire…Part II

Lately the world seems like a heaping pile of poo with the ongoing Covid pandemic, riots, insurrections, political infighting and unrest, the climate crisis, unrelenting conflict and…and on and on and on…we often become numb to the magic that is at our finger tips…yet there is still wonder and amazement to be found in a every day moment…mysteries to marvel at…gifts that God hands to us in our human existence for us to open…

“traveling on the edge of a vast, floating whirlpool of stars”, alive and conscious, walking and talking on a big rock circling a bigger burning ball of gas…nearly fourteen billion years after the cosmos bubbled into being”

(Rick Hanson, Ph.D.)

In honor to the small gifts of life, and Mr. P’s request…here is the “rest of the story”…

A outstanding planetary citizen preforming a vital function…heads down…bottom ups

Umbolo climbs to the opening of his burrow squinting in the early morning spring sun…It’s October and winter has decided to bid adieu for the season…catching the “bok-bok-mak-kik” of the shy and skulking large yellow Bokmakierie with his black collar…off somewhere pecking for his breakfast of insects, small lizards, snakes, small birds and frogs….uggggg….gross and nauseating to Umbolo….shrugging…but to each his own…

Precious green thickets of spekboom with its small, star-shaped dusty pink buds doing its job of helping the environment by sponging up the carbon dioxide…and surreptitiously providing an ingredient to his own nutritious meals served by the elephants…the Acacia thorns with its conspicuous paired white long thorns 10-25 cm (4″ -10″) that would soon to a mass of sweetly-scented golden-yellow puff balls…

The karoo was definitely in nursery mode…and romance was in the air💕… Spring was here!!!!

Grumbling…his stomach reminds him that the first order of the day is nutrition…there is always such fierce competition between all his friends, relatives and competitors at the self-service take out…sometimes hundreds congregating…❓don’t know why❓…after all one elephant shares up to 150kg (330 lbs.) of poo every day…and with 600+ elephants…well, you do the math…that’s a lot of food…but like all buffets…the best parts are dried up or gone quickly if you arrive too late…

Raising his antenna with its incredible sensitive sense of smell….awww there it is…the delicious smell of fresh gourmet poo…after all he was a very fussy eater…he needed and craved the tiniest particles of the protein-rich nitrogen source needed to keep his muscles strong💪…clicking it up a notch for fast mode to the elephant provided buffet…he’s off…🏁

Yes, Umbolo arrived early enough…food still warm and fresh…but no time to slow down…he was at risk of being assaulted by Isela or one of his gang of thieves…they were relentless…although Umbolo was quite a strong defender of his poo balls…he had lost his prize several times before…..and had been relieved of his precious haul…he had to head off again to find a new fresh source of his edibles and gifts for a potential girlfriend…and just maybe a “baby” nest💞…hopefully not this time…

All hail the underdog!

Umbolo’s long, thin, outwardly bowed hind legs were well suited for running and wrapping around the accumulation of the poo…clinging to the ball as he was forming it…he was able to maneuver a ball 50x his weight…Hercules of the dung beetles..

“Like a bag of money dropped in the street, “everyone would grab as much as they could, get it somewhere safe, and then come back for more.”

Max Barclay

Umbolo quickly gripped the ground with his mid and hind legs and cut into the warm buffet with his front legs. He began then patting bits of food on his new ball with the rakelike extensions on his front legs…definitely not a day for creating the most magnificent of balls today…too much competition…pushing against the buffet table with his head, Umbolo separated his takeaway…and started rolling…quickly…before it was stolen by his rivals…

Beating a hasty retreat…in the most expeditious and efficient way possible…in the most direct route…a straight line…head down…butt up…propelling his meal with his hind legs, he moves backwards with his head pointed to the ground…Off to the races…navigating away from the fray…

No GPS or Google Maps needed here…not confused where to go at all…he has celestial powers too…an internal celestial compass for orientation and skylight cues…he stops, climbing on top of his booty and rotated around to orient himself…detecting the symmetrical patterns of polarized light…climbing back down and pushing his treasure again…the reference point of the sun giving him the way to beat a hasty retreat home…

He had made it to safety away from the scrimmage safely this time…digging in the soft soil under his precious ball…he pushed the dirt up around it until it sank into the ground…no need to bury it too deep…the nursery ball would definitely need to be buried deeper….he was in a hurry…his hormones were kicking in and the girls were waiting…

Uswiti was so incredibly frustrated…MEN…they were all alike…the handsome beetle Indoda had duped her that very morning…enticing her with his strong masculine essence…she had fallen for it and followed him into his burrow…the thrill was short lived…nothing to see there…no brood ball in sight…a lazy one… must be part of the gang run by Isela…feeling a little full of himself, he tried a little funny business…the full wrath of Uswiti ensued…kung foo expert…she left him in in the most most vulnerable position…upside down on the floor of his burrow…

She was not giving up…she had spent a lot of time rounding out her curves…getting ready to find a nice man and have a family…after all, that’s all this girl really wanted..in the meantime…curves to be maintained…off to find lunch…

She had wasted a good part of the morning with the scamp…lunch was going to be a quick pick up and go…being around noon now…packed up with all the nutrition needed…she was quickly out of the rowdy crowd…the sun being at its zenith…it was unreliable to discern East from West…no time to wait for afternoon sun guidance…she toggled on her internal wind compass and off she went…headed toward home…to dine in peace…

The late morning fiasco had caused an additional complication… hot…hot…hot…the unrelenting sun searing the surface of the ground…at this time of the day, even the trees were seeking shade…the waves of the afternoon heat were blistering the soles of her feet…she felt herself starting to overheat…a few minutes reprieve…Uswiti climbed on top of her food packet to cool her feet…

Times like this made her extremely jealous of her relatives…the Scarabaeus satyrus family…they took to the air (no walking for them) at dusk…working in the cool of the evening…no need to contend with the heat of the African sun to find the straightest way home…out and about at night…navigating and orienting themselves using the beautiful stars of the Milky way…picking up the polarized light they used this as a map to keep themselves on course…oh, well…that was not her lot in life…back to hot-footing it…

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde

Umbolo’s breathing was getting a quicker and his heart was beating just a little faster…his anxiety level had increased with each beat of his heart…the gift of a brood ball was all of completed…the lovely romantic gift was unwrapped so it could be seen and all his work fully appreciated…would he be accepted today…

Well, here goes…another headstand…supporting his body with his head and four front legs…he rubbed his belly with the brush on his back legs…first one leg and then the other…back and forth…his enticing manly essence was released with a puff of fine white powder…the pungent order that hopefully enticed the ladies…he had a juicy prize to give…

Uswiti felt herself being enticed toward another tempting manly smell…maybe this one would be a more suitable partner…and she headed off to check it out…one never knows…she spotted Umbolo’s beautiful brood ball…such a homey and roomy nursery…she came a little closer and Umbolo relinquished his headstand and raised his forelegs in greeting…his dream come true…advancing on Uswiti he extends his antennae…would she accept him…

Dung beetles prefer human faeces to those of wild animals | The Economist

Hesitantly…Uswati lowers her front legs…Yes!!!!!!…letting him know that she thinks he’s a mighty fine dung beetle with his exquisite offering…she climbs a top his gift and clings to the ball as Umbolo starts to roll the ball away as quickly as he can…now he needs to get her home before Isela or one of his thieves tries to steal both his woman and his brood ball again…

No, such luck…there he comes…thinking he’s the cat’s meow…not this time…Umbolo knew Isela would be relentless…determined to roll off his prize…being bulky had it’s disadvantages…and ground warfare was the only option with no wings…his strength in the battle was his strength and this was a matter of survival…he had experience in all the techniques to viciously fight for his claimed prize…

Umbolo is on the top, now he’s on the ground…now Isela is on the top…Umbolo comes back…not giving up and much like a wrestler flings that would-be thief right off…it’s a big fight…each trying to throw the other off…one more time…Umbolo throws Isela off…Isela is temporarily helpless upside down…deciding that this time perhaps it might be easier to find a less determined target…

Victorious…Umbolo starts off again with Uswiti until they come to an acceptable location for the nursery…Umbolo crawls underneath the ball and starts removing the soil underneath while Uswiti clings to the top…gradually the ball sinks lower and lower into the ground until the nursery is hidden from view…and Uswati lays one egg inside of the soft ball and the ball hardens making a protective layer for the baby…the inside is softer and provides all the food that their babies will need to grow and thrive..

The next generation will emerge from the soil after the first summer rain when the temperatures are warm enough and the soil is moist enough to break free…Umbolo prevailed and future generations of exemplary planetary citizens…he is truly a Dung Beetle Extraordinaire…

***Although this is a work of fiction, I tried to stick as close to the facts as possible. The information as to the behavior of dung beetles was taken from scientific articles mentioned below…

Evan Nicole Brown ‘When the Sun is High, Dung Beetles Navigate with the Wind’ Atlas Obscura

Matt McGrath “Dancing dung beetles navigate with ‘sky snapshot” BBC News

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/beetles-fight-over-dung-ball

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-humble-dung-beetle-180967781/

Umbulo the Dung Beetle Extordinaire…Part I

Ten animal crossing signs from around the world — Just a Little Further

While driving through Addo, Elephant Park, we came across the signs like these and being the curious sort that I am..I dug into finding out more about these small creatures and was completely dumbfounded at how incredibly interesting a beetle that rolled poo for a livelihood could be…what follows is the story of just one…Umulo

An ancient Greek fable…
The storyteller, Aesop (believed to have lived in ancient Greece around 600 BCE) tells the story of “The Dung Beetle and the Eagle”. Despite the appeals of the beetle, the eagle killed a hare. To take revenge on the eagle, the beetle destroyed the eagle’s eggs. In despair, the eagle visited Olympus and asked Zeus to look after its latest eggs by placing them in Zeus’s lap. When the beetle realised what the eagle has done, he stuffed himself with dung and flew into the face of Zeus. This startled Zeus and in the process he jumped to his feet and dropped the eggs. After an explanation from the beetle, and realising that the eagle had ignored the pleas of the beetle, Zeus instructed the eagle and the beetle to stay away from each other. To ensure that the beetle would now leave the eagle’s eggs alone, Zeus changed the breeding season of the eagle to a period when beetles are not above ground.
https://wilderness-safaris.com/

Khepri (Scarabaeus Sacer)

Umbulo woke to a warm and sunny day…he had been extremely lethargic during the whole of winter…time to rise and shine… work to do…shuffling poo around…he absolutely loved his job of environmental specialist…cleaning up the environment, reseeding, providing vital nutrients for the soil, aerating and fertilizing…you have to be very passionate about what you do to work, eat, sleep and drink poo…

Opening each of his four eyes stretching each of his six legs…yep, everything was in working order…he stared at the portraits of his family that he had deliberately arranged on the wall opposite his bed…it was an inspiring reminder of his illustriousness heritage and length of his family’s lineage…65 million years…

The revered Scarab Beetle…his great…great…great (many great’s) ancestor was worshipped for thousands of years…considered a solar deity…and over 600 family lines were known throughout the world…on every continent, except for Antarctica…which for all practicality is not known for it’s warmth…and large amounts of poo…now how’s that for having something to be proud of…

Umbolo was a very unique poo roller…the three members of his family were different than he was…he was a Qenq the roller (Telecoprids)…but there was Iton the Tunneler (Endocoprids), Umhlai the Dweller (Paracoprids) and the Black Sheep of the Family, Ukuba the Stealer (Kleptocoprids). Ukuba never did any work of his own, he always stole other beetles work… so the family never spoke of him much and if they did it was only in hushed whispers…

Rolling out of bed to the floor…immediately to start his callanetics…staying the strongest animal on the planet was not an easy feat…pulling and pushing over 1,000 times his body weight every working day required a great deal of consistent workouts…something no human could pull off…lol…he grinned to himself at the image of any human pulling 6 double decker buses filled with people…


Umbolo’s direct family line was endemic to South Aftica…and his family was of the rarest Dung Beetle kind and now most of his family was found only here in the Park…The Addo Dung Beetle or their fancier name Circellium bacchus…he was so extra special that even the human’s took unusual precautions that he was protected…he was immortalized and given the right of way at all times..he rubbed his beautiful strong body one more time in pride before heading out…

He had to walk…not fly like some of his cousins…remembering all his family that still had wings…like magical capes that allowed them to get to any steaming pile of poo in a hurry…and his own long, dry hot walk seemed unfair……but definitely worth it…his family had adapted themselves with it was the only way to survive in the hot arid desert environment that he had been regulated to…it was always such a long walk for elephant takeaway…His wing case now had evolved to be a CO2 cylinder..which helped him to breathe less and not waste his body water during his daily trek on his job…As opposed to wings, flightless dung beetles have a tightly sealed elytra (wing case), which creates a convective cooling system where heat is drawn away from their body. Thus, they are perfectly suited to hot regions of Africa.

He climbed out of his tunnel…lifted his head…his strong sense of smell alerted him to the fact that his favorite meal was already prepared for him by the majestic elephant chef who lived on site….and maybe…just maybe he’d convince a beautiful female how magnificent he was and start a family…

Here Comes The Bride

References:

https://jeb.biologists.org/content/206/8/1261.2

https://theconversation.com/five-things-dung-beetles-do-with-a-piece-of-poo

https://www.shamwari.com/the-magnificent-flightless-dung-beetle/

https://www.sabisabi.com/wildfacts/dung-beetles/

Sunday Morning at the Watering Hole…

“Nature itself is the best physician.” 

Hippocrates 

Double C’s…not that🤣…where is your mind at….Cancer and Covid…each on their own are incredibly stressful circumstances to walk with…together, they can become an overwhelming daily event…

To find a place of peace and calmness to breathe in…Mr. P and I headed into nature…we are lucky that Addo Elephant park is only about a 45 minute drive…a place of solace from the current “norm”…

I think I have gone over the edge a tad…for every photo that I came across…seemed to have a conversation with me…but I wanted to share and hope that you might find a respite from your own place of chaos and turmoil or just a laugh…btw…it did work…both of our resting heart rates did come down…❤

Did you hear what’s happening down at the watering hole today?

Oh…OK, Mabel…nothing’s happening here…let’s go check it out…

Hey, Wait for me…I can hear everything…if you let me go too…I’ll tell you everything

…There’s the boy’s again…fighting over that prissy girl…won’t they every learn?

There goes George…all in a huff…I guess he didn’t get the girl this time…

Yup…the party is starting…you better hurry, girls…

There’s Bertha…definitely hasn’t lost all the “pregnancy fat” yet…and that child of her’s…so spoilt and noisy…

And there’s Secretary Martha…always looking for her lost bugs…and that outdated feathered cap!!!!… really needs to go…

Quite eating, Ziggy…we’re going to miss all the fun…

Let’s keep going, Pumba…it looks a little crowded here…

…Psst,,,those nosy girls are on the way….want me to head them off at the pass…I’ll take them both on…you know I will!….

Which way….come on, guys…which way….this is not funny…you know I can’t see which way to go….

The Gang’s all here…

Sending love, laughter, and some magic for your day!!!! ~Renée

Fermented Fruit of the Ancient “Elephant Tree”…

There is a phrase…”curiosity killed the cat…but satisfaction brought him back”…and that is how we got in wonderful trouble…

…After reading about how the animals so enjoyed the fruit…my curiosity about this aromatic, juicy plum-sized fruit rapidly grew…so I had to ask Mr. P if he had tasted the fruit…he HAD tasted the exquisite Amarula cream Liqueur… and of course I just had to give it a try…

Anything that has withstood the test of thousands of years…it must be exceptional…yes, believe it or not archaeological evidence shows the marula tree was a source of nutrition as long as ago as 10,000 years B.C….

It is a botanical treasure…nearly every part of the tree can be used in one way or another…from the bark which can be chewed for stomach issues…the nuts can roasted and are considered to be a delicacy…the leaves used as a spice…and then there is the fruit…raw, cooked, made into jam, a home-made beer called Buganu, in Mozambique the fermented marula fruit is used to produce a wine called Ucanhe…and of course Amarula Cream…

This magical tree is also dioecious trees….what in the world does “dioecios” mean…it means that the tree has a specific sex…and of course, it is the female ones that bear flowers and fruit…the males only “look pretty” by blooming…

I tried it and it is extraordinarily delicious…and Mr. P said it gave him psychedelic dreams…and as I said in the beginning…”satisfaction brought him back”…it is now in our stash of alcohol…just in case we forget why the elephants (and all the rest of the African animals) love it so much…

https://youtu.be/hBzqy5a–WE

*Beautiful Feature Image by Jabulani-Keith-Ladzinski

Drunk and Not-So-Drunk Elephants…

I believe that I can hear you say..,”Really?”…the truth has been debated…but I tend to lean towards the probability that it is true…

Drunk elephants or for that matter…or drunken antics by any animals was never even near to being within the scope of things that I might have given a passing hmmmm…🤔

In research for my novel, I am in the process of reading a translation of Adulphe Delegotgue’s two-volume Voyage dans l’Afrique Australe produced originally in 1848…a young 24 year old aristocratic Frenchman, whose lust for adventure and scientific curiosity provoked him to take an incredulous 5 year journey of exploration in southern Africa…BTW…it is a most delightful read…

Delegorgue considered the biological aspects the most interesting part of his travel memoir and devotes a significant portion of his writing to the majestic elephant…

“The elephant has in common with man predilection for a gentle warming of the brain induced by fruit which has been fermented by the action of the sun: the omkouschlouane and the makano of the Amazoulous”

Travels in Southern Africa,1990

Enjoy a little laughter today….

Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing. John Donne

A few days after starting this blog…Mr. P & I took a needed day in nature…an excursion to Addo Elephant Park only few hours drive from home…although we didn’t see any drunk elephants…the ones we saw were incredibly interesting and humorous…reminding me of my own family get-togathers…a tribe with 5 brothers and sisters…all the accompanying nieces and nephews…and added friends…each holiday was just a noisy and raucous as this herd that we found around a waterhole in the park…

Did you know that you can identify the African Elephant from all their Asian cousins by the fact that they are larger and their ears are larger and bear a resemblence to the continent of Africa…

“One cannot resist the lure of Africa.” ~Rudyard Kipling

Their trunks have over 40,000 muscles and 2 fingerlike features at the end of their trunk that they use to grab things…Their Asian cousins have only 1…

“It was the wildest, untouched Africa, and it was magic.” ~Jane Goodall

“Of all African animals, the elephant is the most difficult for man to live with, yet its passing ― if this must come ― seems the most tragic of all. I can watch elephants (and elephants alone) for hours at a time, for sooner or later the elephant will do something very strange such as mow grass with its toenails or draw the tusks from the rotted carcass of another elephant and carry them off into the bush. There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.” – Peter Matthiessen

https://everydaypower.com/elephant-quotes/

“The strange rhythm seemed now to be coming from behind me, from the land, so I turned to look across the gorge … where my heart stopped … Standing there in the shade of the tree was an elephant … – Carl Safina

Purest Little Part of Me | African bush elephant, African animals, African  elephant

The Balancing Act

What started out to to be a slightly anxiety producing event morphed into an exceptionally magnificent morning…

Mr. P and I had been tossing the idea of taking a whale and dolphin watching cruise since I arrived…well…even before…since my son-in-law showed me the videos of the jackass penguins and their true-to-life sound of a braying donkeyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVF9F28SY4c…so belly laughing hilarious🤣to watch…

In an effort to keep my social skills from totally atrophying I joined a photographic club…this happened to be their first ‘outing’ that I decided to join…Mr. P became a member too…on account that I haven’t learned to drive on the left side of the road with a left-handed stick shift… and sharing the road with crazy drivers and he makes me feel safer…my own personal bodyguard😎…seriously, it was more about being to be able to share the things that we both enjoy…

We were anticipating a distraction from the current situation that we are experiencing at the moment…although surgery had gone well…the previous day’s appointment to the oncologist was difficult for me…a reminder of the anguish inflicted on the the lives of 46 family members who had fought the same darkness and the few who survived it’s aggressive assault on their lives…and the special one❤ who lives with the presence of the gene that she carries with her every day of her life…

It started the night before…the combination of a glass of wine and seasick pills laid me out me out quicker than Tyson’s 90 second knockout…I could not keep my eyes open for anything…and at 8:30 gave it up…Mr. P did promise not to tell the kids that I wasted the night sleeping😂…

The morning dawned and set off early…the early night definitely helped to being “bright-eyed and bushy tailed”…with slight apprehensions about being accepted into the group…being the new kid on the block and an American to-boot…we set out to expand my knowledge of the marine life here in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth…it still feels so unbelievable to live so close to all of this miraculous splendor of nature…

The sea was flat and calm after a few days of winds…yet trying to walk gracefully on a narrow floating pontoon bridge was not an easy feat for me…like navigating life (particularly in our now)…finding balance is most important…

Balancing Family Life Through Uncertainty | Resilient Educator
Dr. Seuss said it best…

By the time I got to the boat, evidently I still hadn’t found my balance…Lost my sandal climbing up the boxes to get into the boat…I tried so hard to look like I knew what I was doing…to be elegant and graceful…put the camera bag on the seat…gave my hand to the owner of the boat and most gracefully lifted my leg over the side and promptly my sandal flew off and landed on the floor of the boat…

“It’s about finding that balance where you have one foot in the familiar, one foot in the unfamiliar.
If you have two feet in the unfamiliar it’s overwhelming….

― Humble the Poet

Algoa Bay

oh, well…I was too excited to dwell on it for long…living in the moment…not the past or the imagined future is a critical component to balancing the good and bad in life for us right now…

Looking to the Future

… this day was going to be a positive memory in our lives…

And it was/and is…the postcard perfect day… weather was cooperating fully…acres of bright blue canvas of sky with puffs of white magic…blown with playful gentle breezes…what more could I ask for…

…but it was just the beginning…I became lost in the enchantment of the sea…

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too” ~Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

…and so are our lives

Such a incredible day…warm ocean painted memories to cherish and hold within my heart❤

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide, roll away
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time
~Otis Redding

..the white heaven bound birds reminding my soul to glide freely from the fear and a wave of sweet earthly joy and hope for the future began to dance…

…with all my love and wishes for magic🎈 and laughter in your life

~Renée

*Special shout-out to Raggy Charters for this beautiful cruise experience