18th September 2006 | Other items by Guest Author
2 December 2002
The tent town runs the kilometer or so of cleared soil that constitutes the runway of the old military airfield, now disused. “Rustic” is how the KNP had marketed the site. It defies imagination how they came up with that word. We swallow our disappointment and pitch our tents on the bare baked earth in the small place allocated to us. We walk a hundred or so meters to the ablution area where rows and rows of trailers house washing up facilities. A low electric fence surrounds the camp. Presumably it is meant to separate us from the marauding beasts of the Kruger National Park. There is to be no sight nor sound of them for the next four nights. No jackal, no hyena, no lion calling at night. Not even a night jar.
3 December – 4 December
7h55 We gather outside our tents gripping solar glasses and binoculars. The cloud parts briefly to allow us a glimpse of the sun. A big bite has been taken out of it by the moon. The cloud slides over once more. The light changes. It is not so much darker as different. The cicadas cease their call. A francolin cries in the distance. The noisy family in the camp site next to us whisper to each other in sibilant voices.
8h00: The silence is punctuated by the call of a lone lark – joined presently by a dove and a francolin. Then once more it is quiet.
8h10: It is darker now. Not like twilight – nor like night. My skin rises goosefleshy. The clouds blow intermittently away revealing the sun looking like a crescent moon. We don’t need our special solar glasses – the clouds provide protection.
8h13: I don’t think we will see the sun again. The clouds are too thick and immovable.
8h17: It is a cold light – very eery. Four minutes to go.
8h20: Darker now like night descending. Suddenly it is black, midnight … I can’t write … the bush is still…silent.
8h21: Dawn comes from the west – yellow/white. The birds call and daylight creeps back – humbled.
5 December: In the night sky the moon appears low in the west sky like a pared fingernail. Mighty moon that ate the sun. Today she is abject.
I try a poem:
then slips away
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