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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)

TITLE: Shades of Africa
By C Harricharan


I see shades of Africa all around me. In the early mornings, during the midday and especially in the evenings as the sun sets in the distant horizon. In the mornings I am awakened to the sounds of birds calling out their salute to the rising sun. This quickly fades into the quiet of the midday as the sun heats up the mountains and the green valley below. In the quiet of the noonday, I can almost hear the distant chatter of the mountain residents. Softly fading in and out of my consciousness is the distant rumbling of vehicles as they traverse the wide expanse around my haven of rest.

Only yesterday I was privileged to see a herd of Zebras peacefully grazing on the hillside as we passed by in our noisy Jeep, cushioned by tan leather seats and enveloped by the cool air from the air-conditioner running on high. An electric fence kept them from wandering into our path, otherwise they were quite used to the vehicles going by in the civilized world around them in the wildlife sanctuary.

Just a few miles further on, beyond the curve around the hillside, I saw two Ostriches. They seemed unaware of the other animals occupying their immediate areas. The crisscrossed, six feet high wire fence between us seemed flimsy compared to their majestic build. The male Ostrich walked over and looked curiously towards the wide expanse of green hills on the other side of the fence. His gait was slow and deliberate and even though out of reach, it appeared anything but harmless. A part of me wanted a closer look, but the other sensible and ever cautious part willed my feet away from the searching eyes looking down at me from the top of the hill. I had read stories of the male protecting its eggs in the desert and I was not about to invade their privacy, not even from behind the steel-reinforced, fence of the Ostrich farm.

To my delight, the first night upon my arrival I heard the distant howl of a coyote. I was told that it only came out of hiding at night to hunt. This suited me just fine, I was quite happy not to meet the owner of the strange howl that made my heart beat increase fourfold.

One night I was rudely awakened by an unearthly yelping and strange barking outside. This was not the coyote. I would have preferred to cover my head and pray that the incessant noise would go away, but this was not to be. Before I could count to ten, all the lights were on and footsteps raced towards the front door. Dressed in my cotton pajamas, I was right behind the trio looking out the screen door at the yelping red monster in the spotlight. A bundle of red fur, with a bushy grey tail and a pointed snout with two huge black eyes. Scurrying around it were three, tan-colored miniature versions of itself making little yelps. Cowering in front of the screen door was the family cat and her two little kittens. Both mothers were determined to protect their little ones and we wanted to go back to sleep. Finally after some persuasion the foxes retreated to the edge of the clearing where the mother continued her loud protest for the next hour.

After that incident I found myself a walking stick. Never again would I venture off the front porch alone and empty handed. My trusty walking stick accompanied me for my evening walks as well as on my sunbathing on the back lawn. However I never met my foxy neighbors again. Maybe they moved.

My favorite shade of Africa is seen in the evening time when the sun goes down in a blaze of orange and red glory. There on top of my African hill, rooted on the peak is a beautiful symmetrical sycamore tree. As the fading sunlight streamed through the branches it formed the picture of a burning tree, just for a moment. One lone tree with branches stretched upwards and darkened with the sun behind it is a lovely reminder of the artistic beauty of our creator.

One day I would like to take a closer look at Africa, a land as mysterious and varied as the one where I now live. For now I enjoy Africa from my home halfway across the world.

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This article has been read 422 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Norma-Anne Hough03/12/09
I loved your descriptions of Africa. This is the Africa I live in and love. We see Zebra and plenty of other wild life on neighbouring game farms close to us. Well done.
Loren T. Lowery03/12/09
You use beautiful descriptive language to tell your reader why you love this land - and you do it so, so well! I liked the bits of humor mixed with the human element as well as it made the read more enjoyable.
Christina Banks 03/12/09
I want to journey to this Africa that you describe.
Josiah Kane03/12/09
This is a nice piece of description. Actually it saddened me that so many of your animals were kept behind fences, trapped in zoos within their own land. Your ending was a bit of a weak round off for such a vivid piece.
Ruth Ann Moore03/13/09
How wonderful to see such beauty. I loved your descriptions and how personal this was for your MC. Enjoyable read.
Karlene Jacobsen03/14/09
I loved your descriptions of the animals and scenery. Very vivid.
Laury Hubrich 03/18/09
I love your descriptions. This is very well written. And I agree - a walking stick carried with you at all times doesn't sound like a bad idea:)
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/18/09
You have a wonderful gift for description. I felt like I was seeing Africa with you.
Catrina Bradley 03/18/09
I'd love to live next to a wildlife sanctuary - experiencing the best part of Africa without leaving home. Great descriptions, very visual writing.