We came upon the Maasai Mara’s famous Marsh Pride on a morning game drive out from Mara River Camp. It was August – as close to winter as Kenya gets – the skies leaden, the plains parched and dusty, the whole place waiting for the short rains that will not be happening for another two months; and perhaps not at all. In fact this trip had started out from Nairobi in thick fog, and descending the Great Rift escarpment was even more hair-raising exciting than usual.
But to get back to the lions. The pride was resting up in home territory, most of its members – mothers and cubs – scarcely visible in the grass. For one thing they were the same colour as the vegetation. For another, it is what lions do – disappear in twelve inches of grass.
As we drove nearer we spotted this male. He was pacing through the grass, roaring. This was answered by another male some distance away. It seemed they were busy marking out their patch. They ignored us anyway, which was comforting, though I have to say that lion-roars, especially ones at close quarters, make your spine resonate, and not in a good way.
Another hair-raising exciting moment then.
We watched them for a while from the safety of the safari truck, then left them to it, the roars following us down the track. By which time we were wondering if we were really there at all. Out in the African wilds it mostly feels like dreaming.
Profile: Panthera Leo
Simba in KiSwahili
Weight: Males 420-500 lb/110-135 kg
Length: Males 5-7 ft/2.5-2 m
Lifespan: Males 12 years
Thursdays Special: Profile
Please visit Paula to see her fantabulous shot of a snowy owl.
The view from my office window two nights ago, captured by placing the camera on the back of the open roof-light window.
Here is a well worn path of my daily comings and going along the margins of Townsend Meadow. The visible sign: the trail of gardening not writing.
There’s an unofficial gap in the hedge beside the first ash tree, and that’s my way into the allotment. The farmer leaves a swath of uncultivated ground on two sides of the field to soak up rainstorm run-off before it hits the houses at the bottom of the hill. For a couple of years these abandoned areas were simply left to grow, hence the nose-high grasses still standing in winter. But last summer, just before the wheat harvest, the weedy wilderness was mowed. Now the only signs of my passing are muddy boot impressions among the fallen ash leaves – not quite so photogenic.
Black & White Sunday: SIGN Paula says to interpret this prompt any way we like.
As in the previous post, this is a Christmas photo, but one taken long ago when we were visiting Lamu off the Kenya coast. I’ve posted it before, but make no excuse for showing it again. It is one of my favourite photos, and one caught in a split second with my Olympus Trip. I think the gods of photography were smiling on me.
The gentleman so absorbed is Mzee Lali, the owner of the sailing dhow. He spoke no English, nor said a word to us that I recall on our day trip out to the reef. The conversation was dominated by his nephew, Athman, who, as a speaker of English, Kenya’s official language, could hold a captain’s licence, and so take tourists out on sailing trips.
He told us that Lali was born on Pate, one of the more remote large islands in the Lamu archipelago. He knew everything there was to know about sailing, Athman said. But because he spoke no English he could not take the necessary two and half year captain’s course, and so obtain a licence.
Somehow this photo echoes the dilemma of island elders. They belong to another world in another time.
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
Weekly Photo Challenge:Solitude
Another Christmas shot from Ynys Mon, North Wales: Penmon Point Beach with Trwyn Du Lighthouse, and sea bird haven, Puffin Island, beyond.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude
These late day views overlooking Wenlock were taken back in December. Many of the trees, especially the oaks, beeches and field maples, had hung on to their leaves, which in turn were gathering in, and reflecting the winter sun. Looking at these photos now makes me appreciate how well treed we are in our hollow beneath Wenlock Edge, this despite two thousand years of farming.
But then you simply cannot have too many. Our shamanic ancestors were wise in their conception of the world tree at the heart of all existence: trees are essential to our survival. Without them we would have a lot of problems breathing. According to science writer Luis Villazon at the BBC’s Science Focus each of us requires around 740 kilos of oxygen per year, which amounts to 7 or 8 trees’ worth.
But that’s not all. As well as providing us with the air we breathe, trees also stabilize, create and replenish soils. They support biodiversity. They affect the climate including rainfall patterns, and their destruction rapidly leads to desertification and soil erosion. They provide us with many useful products, and in the future we may come to rely on them as a source of essential and cheap medications to which everyone can have ready access.
In the light of all these arboreal gifts, going out and hugging a tree now seems an eminently sane thing to do. In fact I recommend it. At the very least, it will lift the spirits. The tree might like it too.
Please visit Paula for her February Pick A Word and be inspired. There is a choice of five prompts, each of which she illustrates superbly: radiating, alimentary, frontal, arboreal, remote.
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell