Under the Leadwood

Through squinting eyes I saw one of them low down on the rugged tree trunk close to my head.  I could almost touch it – intelligent shiny eyes looked back at me, the thick bushy tail flicking.  Since I made myself comfortable in the dappled spots of sunlight under the big Leadwood tree, the bush squirrels had been busy as usual.  Up and down, up and down they went.

The sand was extra thick in this area and felt soft against my back. I wriggled my toes.  I enjoyed the little streams of sand running between them. Shells of giant  African snails from long ago were  scattered around me.  They were white from exposure to the elements.  A pair of Namaqua doves were drinking water.  They were close, I could clearly see the bright bill of the male framed by his black face.

I closed my eyes again. It was the  perfect day to take it easy.  In the distance the Emerald-spotted wood dove was singing the saddest of songs: “My mum is dead, my dad is dead and all my brothers and sisters, boo-boo-boo…

My eyes opened with a start at the loud kok-kok-kok-kok of a Yellow-billed hornbill in the canopy above. It was much later.  The bright afternoon sun had been replaced by long shadows.

Then I saw them.  Warthogs.  A whole family drinking water – a mother with a row of little ones. Suddenly the adult stopped drinking.  She looked up.  I had been spotted.  They started running, podgy with short little legs, kicking up small clouds of dust.  I could see their tails erect like antennas before they disappeared into the dense vegetation.

I had to get going too, it was still a long walk home for a nine year old…

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