Sunday, October 6, 2013

It takes a quiet mind.

A dear friend noted that my difficulty in writing stems from my inability to "quiet my mind" and focus on one thing at a time. I am most often guilty of trying to say to many things in a limited word count. I am thankful every day for editors - especially my personal editors, my colleague Hannah Alcasid, and my husband Brian, and the AALL Spectrum editorial staff. Unlike this blog, my professional pieces reflect collaboration with my editors. You are now nodding and saying, "well that explains a lot."

Technology further challenges those of us with unquiet minds. We constantly anticipate how the words we write will be shared -- because in the world of academia, knowledge has to become information for tenure and other purposes. Clicks, citations, and re-tweets are counted and measured.

Yesterday I gave my unquiet mind a break. It is easy to do here in South Africa. Nature and cities nestle together, often with some uneasiness, but nestle they do. A mere 47 minutes (per Google maps) from my guesthouse, and a mere 35 minutes past a MacDonalds, is the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve. I spent three hours roaming the roads of the preserve.

I get the "road less traveled" gene from my Father.

I am not a photographer. I leave documenting the world and its glories to my talented friends and family, Anita Healy, Catherine G, and my husband. Accepting my lack of photography skill takes a lot of pressure off of me. I got to enjoy the scenery and animals without being too concerned about framing and creating the best photograph. In addition, preserve rules 3, 4, 5, and 6 tend to limit even the most talented photographers:

  • 3. Visitors may not alight from their vehicles or leave the doors open.
  • 4. Windows are not to be opened more than 33%.
  • 5. Do not linger when within 25 metres of the lions and other predators.
  • 6. Keep your vehicle idling at all times and ensure that you can accelerate immediately and quickly.
Despite this, I took a few photographs. As evidence of my unquiet mind, the animals and scenery share the spotlight. I found the African landscape overwhelmingly beautiful.

South African Landscape
South African Landscape

South African Landscape

And of course, a few animal pictures to round out the post.

Sable Antelope

Buffet Time. Salt blocks and grass (dolomite soil doesn't provide all the necessary nutrients).
White Lions napping after lunch. Apparently they like to attack and eat spare wheel covers!

Eland - almost a unicorn.

He was rather intrigued by Sophia.

The impala look so fragile until they start to run.

Mistress of the Universe.
The animal life was diverse--hippos, rhinos, and more. I spent a long time talking with a park ranger.  Among other fascinating things, I learned the reserve is testing a rhino poaching prevention project. The reserve lost a rhino to poachers in 2010. The rhino's horn is now painted with a medical compound that is not harmful to the rhino, but causes nasty side effects in humans. Of course, the law requires the reserve post notice of this toxic danger to humans. What is interesting is that the compound remains visible to detection even if the horn is ground into powder. This should enable airport security checkpoints to detect the transport of the rhino horns.

An ice cream ended my "safari" and Sophie and I head for home. Only one wrong turn meant we made it in 52 minutes!
Her 4-cyclinder engine deserves a rest after today's work out!