Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Edward Abbey

25 January 2005

Capturing the free

I set out on my daily walk in the veld yesterday, digicam in hand, with the aim of seeing how many "free", wild individuals I could capture in pixels. The answer is two.

At first I had little luck, finding only a group of red hartebees in the distance and some grazing wildebeest closer by. But they were on "the other side of the fence", inside the nature reserve. They are not truly free. So I asked Zepteppe to help me find someone who is truly free. She was trying to be very helpful and headed off, nose to the ground, in the direction of the hedgehog mound. But I felt bad disturbing them and although Zepteppe and Jupiter don't harm them, they do tend to dig open the entrance to their burrow and upset the family when extracting individual hedgehogs to bring to show me. (It's not something I encourage, just something that has happened in the past. Besides the pointer sisters are gundogs, it's in their nature to retrieve - but not harm.) Anyway, I suggested to the sisters that we look for someone else.

As we set off again, the air started buzzing. That's when I noticed my first subject - a bird of prey, circling effortlessly in the distance. The day had been a hot one and she was able to glide on the updrafts. She came close and closer and as I lifted the camera skywards, she flew directly overhead. I managed to snap her image. But she was distracted, I think she was hungry and had little time for me. But she definitely made an effort to come my way during her circling flights. And then she left.

Later on I snapped the second free individual. She was part of a large group. An uber-squadron of dragonflies gathered around me, droning as they hung in the air. They seemed curious and playful. My brain kept telling me they were drawn to the glinting lens of the camera, but collectively the cells of my body told a different story. We (the dragonflies and I) were laughing together, enjoying the breeze and the sunshine after several days of glorious rain.

Capturing the free

They were playing with me. We were happy and free. They were golden in colour and the late afternoon light in humid air just added to their brilliance. Hulle het geskitter. The blue sky and the green grass added to the rainbow.

They kept coming back for more hanging around me, hovering just above my head and slightly in front of me, making sure they were highly visible to me, but just out of reach. I did not have to turn and follow them, they kept coming to me. They would fly off and then return. Never going too far away. There was laughter in the air. Dragonfly laughter. Divine laughter.

The dogs enjoyed the moment too but got bored eventually and wanted to move along. I could have stayed forever, but I had an engagement and had to pull myself away.

I read today that dragonflies' eyes glow not only when alive but continue to do so for a few hours after they die. Not sure if that's true, but they certainly are spectacular people.

The adventures of Kim and the free world continue. Did anyone read Arundhati Roy's latest diatribe?

Capturing the free

"How can you buy and sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Every part of this earth is sacred to my people." Chief Seattle

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