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23 November 2012, 09:30

Just a little ditty for the weekend…

The morning cowboy coffee at four still lingers in my mouth. Had it black with a little sugar; I sometimes don’t even know why we add milk, it seems to dilute the taste. There’s already a half hour gone but my tongue still embraces the pungent aroma and my throat the faint bitter, yes; coffee is still the favourite for the morning.

Making my way to the chosen spot in the half-light has its own challenges. The single bush path twists and turns through long grass veering away from shrubs, bushes and thorn trees on either side. I was still musing the expectation I have of this day when I walk face first into a well-crafted spider web, the damn thing is so strong it nearly bounces me back. Spiders do a lot to keep the equilibrium of insect over population at bay, but I’ve never liked one on my skin and this one could catch a bird. It is just as well I am at a remote spot and it is too early for anyone else to be around otherwise they would’ve witnessed a guy slapping himself half to death in the middle of the veld.

I round the big wild fig tree and arrive at the spot. The dry river bed lays ominous ahead with the opposite shore still quite a mid-tone grey and an orangey, purplish sky as backdrop. If my calculation from yesterday’s sunset is correct, the big star of raging fire will rear its head right in the middle of the biggest tree on the other side. I noticed yesterday that a snake eagle or other raptor was nesting in the upper branch and thought a silhouette photo would justify the feeling it gave me.

I run the exclamations of beauty through my head and wonder why “Christ” and “God” are always used to express utter shock or elation. To refrain my mind from wandering into (what some may view as) sacrilege, I settle on the first word I remember being taught for a view like this; beautiful. These days the overuse of “amazing” and “fantastic” or “awesome” leave me feeling a bit empty; it becomes quite uncomfortable to spend time with people who view everything in life worthy of exclamatory words.

I set up my gear and peer through the lens to get a light reading. The sky is constantly shifting colours as the imminent arrival of another day is just waiting to burst over the horizon. The idea is to catch the raptor taking off or landing on the nest in the rising sun. I am no fool, the likelihood of that happening is quite narrow but I’ll take the odds and return every morning for the duration of my stay. Nature is not like a movie, every day brings a new script, a new story-line and completely new actors. While I pour my second coffee from the flask, the sun is threatening to break the day; go - time then.

I’ve got time on my hands and I’m playing the waiting game while the night becomes day and the birds are almost at fever pitch – thinking that, I’m sure there are a couple of song titles in there. Suddenly the sun is out and the temperature drops. I take my position and wait. I can see the eagle ruffling his feathers expecting the gracious giant to take off anytime now. When the nest is in the center of the sun, my patience is wearing thin and the anticipation sits on the tip of my trigger finger. Nothing; as quick as the conditions were perfect, it vanished. The sun is now topping the tree and I cannot get closer. As I feel a wash of disappointment fleeting in my gut, a movement passing close catches my eye. A giraffe decided to walk right across my point of interest; gracious, like a professor attending the year end ball at an English university. I adjust and take the shot - this warns him of my position and he stops to look and I carry on shooting…

It is a lot like looking for love. You visit all the spots where you think she may hide but she evades you as if you’re too anxious. The instant your expectations become a disappointment she shows up in a very dissimilar form to the one you had imagined. Funny, this life – gracious, surprising, disappointing, tough, depressing, exhilarating, easy, frightening and challenging – still funny…
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