Thursday, March 9, 2017

The bush

Stanley - Thursday

I am in the bush at the moment.

Just as Annamaria was last week.  Just as Michael is right now.

Writers in the bush

Annamaria has entertained you over the past two weeks with lovely photos of her time in the bush - animals and birds of great beauty.

The physical bush 1

The physical bush 2

The physical bush 3

But for me that is only a small part of what the bush is all about.  It is more about what happens in my head when I'm there.  It's about the smell and the sounds.  And about watching how an antlion traps its prey and wondering how antlion larvae can survive moths without food.

Antlion trap

It's about trees growing, then being pushed over by an elephant whose only interest is a few leaves at the top.  Or how a tree is attacked by termites and ends up being a termite mound.  Life and death.

Termite mound
It is about lions that suffer from the quandary of sloth - the trade off between the discomfort of continuing to lie in the sun and the effort required to reach the shade.  We've all been there and know the anguish of decision.

To move or not to move?

Being in the bush is about looking at interesting trees, bushes, and thorns.

I love the twists of old trees.

The ellies scratch themselves on this tree

A mopane bush - home of the delicious mopane worms

No idea what this is - a lily of the desert?

Thorns for Africa

It is about the wonder of looking at the night sky: the Milky Way, Orion and The Pleiedes, and all the other Bushmen ancestors looking down at us.  And what about the Large Magellanic Cloud, only 14,000 light years across with a mass of 10 billion suns?

Large Magellanic Cloud

Being in the bush is about our insignificance and our arrogance.  It is wondering what infinity means.  And thinking about God -and if it exists.

All of this comes together for me in the bush.

It is here that I wonder how elephants get by on only a couple of hours sleep a night.  How they can even go for days with no sleep at all.  And why it is that the larger the mammal, the less sleep it needs.  (Mette says that is why I need several hours of sleep less than her every night.)

The bush sparks my curiosity: why do lions sometimes hunt and kill, then walk away without eating?  Why have I seen only one blue waxbill this year, when I saw flocks last year.  Why are there hundreds of carmine bee eaters this year, when there were none last year?

Blue waxbill

Southern carmine bee eaters

The bush inspires introspection and reflection, a coming to grips with oneself.  It is a place which does not suit everyone - some people find it boring, uninteresting.  But there is a bond between those who are in love with it, even between people who do not know each other.

It is about breakfast with friends: mushrooms, eggs, and bacon, and a bottle of wonderful dessert wine.

Breakfast with Edelkeur - yummy!
And it is for all these reasons I've invited some of my bushie friends to the gorgeous Boulders Bush camp in the Kruger National Park to celebrate my seventieth birthday today.  I can think of no better place to welcome the beginning of the next chapter of my life calendar.  No better people to be with.


  1. Happy Birthday, Stan. Though I could never say it this eloquently, you know how close my own experience of the bush is to yours. I wish many, many splendid days of wonder and joy in the coming years.

  2. Happy birthday - it is indeed a very special place to celebrate!

  3. I can relate to the lion more than the warbler, but envy them both to be in the bush with you on such a momentous occasion as the day you enter the best decade ever! Congratulations and Xronia Pola, our friend! xo J&B

  4. And many happy returns to you, and many more happy returns to the bush.

    I would just like to report, in case you are interested, that the sky in Scotland today is white. As it was yesterday. And the day before that.