Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)
TITLE: Shades of Africa
By C Harricharan
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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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