Each moment of each day at Plains Tented Camp is a marvel. Here I lie in a swimming pool overlooking the Timbitene Plains. It is a hot, dry day and the pool water is wonderfully cool. A zeal of zebra approach, and we sink low in the water such that all they might see are two pairs of eyes at water level. However they are not fooled and inch closer, looking directly at us, a line of more than 30, all facing our way, ears pricked, more with curiosity than fear. It may have something to do with my large purple hat which rises like a homing beacon above my head. We try saying a friendly hello, but the zebra don’t like this, and snort in disapproval and stamp their feet.
The young zebra are the most forgiving and the first to relax. The smallest, barely a teenager, starts a game of ‘Follow the Leader’ and they spend a good 20 minutes doing wide circles and zig-zag turns across the plains in a long, youthful line of energy and enthusiasm for the simple act of running across the plains, one after the other.
I remember the days when the mere act of running brought a simple and uncomplicated joy, just as now that I am older, the privilege of swimming in a pool overlooking the Timbitene Plains brings a similar surge of energy and joy. I sigh in gratitude for this experience and I am reminded of the words of poet Mary Oliver: “Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”
In her poem ‘Have you Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches’ in West Wind, 1997