African Bush

Last weekend I had the gift of being in the African bush.

Now before any of you wonder why I am bucking the system (we are still in pretty intense lock down here in South Africa) let me assure you that I did not leave my town, or even my home.

I had planned to be part of a prayer meeting on Saturday morning, but an overseas phone call filled most of the time allocated. I caught the end of it and then, because I was busy doing other things, let the YouTube clip roll over to the next in line.

It was the dam cam at Djuma game reserve. The sounds of the bush were soothing and so I let it run. Doves called and insects buzzed in the heat of the day. I continued with my gentle activity, but now I was transported into the African bush.

I glanced up. A herd of female impala had gathered at the water’s edge. I could see the male with his beautiful horns on the other side of the water, keeping a watchful eye on his harem. The animals ate, and drank and communicated with one another, serene and graceful.

Gradually they moved off. And I just enjoyed the sounds again. A snuffling alerted me to the presence of something else. Three muddy warthog were tumbling around in the damp soil on the other side of the dam. The camera zoomed in. Huffing and puffing they wandered around, drinking for a moment but enjoying the mud. In their turn they wandered off.

And moments later a loud snort had me looking attentively at the screen. A buffalo. A lone male buffalo had come silently down to the water’s edge. He waded into the dam, grunting in delight. He paddled along the shoreline in the water, until he came to the spot he deemed just right. Sitting on his haunches, like a dog, he was quiet for a moment, then he rolled back into the water, so only his nose was visible. He was only there for a second, before he heaved himself onto his feet and slipped and slid up the bank, water streaming off him. I sort of expected him to shake himself, but he stood still, and let the water drip, as if delighting in the moment.

As I did. I had never seen that before and it was a joy to watch.

Others came, a small herd of male impalas, a family of raucous Egyptian geese, and, to end my time there on that day a hippo. Whether he had been in the dam the whole time or whether he had slipped in quietly whilst other things were going on I don’t know, but his call was unmistakable as he grunted and snorted and claimed ownership to the dam at the end of the day.

On Sunday I decided to tune in again. This time a herd of elephant arrived. Trumpeting, grumbling, the big ones walking sedately to the water’s edge, the little ones tumbling and splashing and copying the example of their elders. One tiny baby had not yet got the hang of how her trunk worked. She splashed with it and blew bubbles with it, but didn’t seem to know how to get water from the dam into her mouth. So she knelt down, bum in the air, and submerged her face up to her eyes in the water. I thought she was playing but then I realised she was drinking. She did it again and again. And then dashed off to play.

The whole time I watched, the doves called, the insects buzzed and the heat shimmered over the water. Whether it was geese or impala, lapwings or buffalo it was an intriguing time. I must have had the link going for 6 hours each day, aware of the privilege of being taken out of my lock down situation and into the beauty of the African bush.

I felt as if I had had a weekend away. It was a blessing and it was healing to know that life goes on and is waiting for us when we can resume our exploration of our planet. The weekend ended with a safari which led to sightings of lion and hyena cubs (not in the same place!) and a wonderful view of a couple of black-backed jackal feasting.

What a gift nature is to us. I ended my weekend with a sense of quiet joy. God had known exactly what I had needed and had led me there to be refreshed and renewed. I praised Him as I went to bed that night, for my weekend in the bush.

About Mandy Hackland

My love in life is to encourage others to deepen their relationship with God. I write devotional material, stories and small group studies with that in mind. I live in South Africa and also love spending time in the bush, bird watching and walking. I have moved to the coast and am enjoying the green spaces and beautiful vistas that surround me, reminding me of God's grace every day.
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