Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
"Mirror Mirror, on the wall"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In search of an Aardvark!

Nursing Zebra Babyis almost as big as Mom
Mom and Baby sharing a mud bath.

Where did Baby get those beautiful eyelashes?  Mom, of course!

Don't worry; be happy!

This 3 week old baby was as big as an animal cracker
In search of the Aardvark

While I was in Kruger National Park, I was surprised that there were so few small animals and rodents to be seen.  I invited our adorable young guide, Michael, to come to visit me in Wellesley, where he could see millions of squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, bunnies, skunks and raccoons.  He could also see tons of deer, wild turkeys and even foxes.  Although they have all of the “big five,” Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, Leopards and Cape buffalo, in the Bush,  the threat they pose to all the smaller animals makes them stay well hidden.  Michael, who lived in the midst of elephants and lions, had never seen any of the animals that eat my flowers every year and forage in my trashcans if I forget to close the garage door. 

In Kruger, we saw Impalas everywhere and joked that they were “the fast food of the bush” since they were prey to every predator.  We saw baboon mamas and baboon babies, Giraffe Mamas and Giraffe babies and Wart hog Mamas and Wart hog babies but we never saw an Aardvark.   Our guide at Sabi Sabi had only seen an Aardvark once although he was a Tribal South African and had lived in Kruger his whole life. 

Like the unicorn, Aardvarks have assumed magical status and tickle our imaginations.   They are a symbol of all that is mystical and hidden from our view.  Their existence illustrates how big the world is and inspires awe and wonder.  We can be reassured by the Aardvark that many things we will never see in our lifetimes really do exist.  It is in the searching that life is revealed and I can’t be disappointed by the journey I took even though we didn’t find the Aardvark. 

Now that I am home, my camera gear is packed away and I go about my life as usual.  However, I find myself looking at all the same things that I have looked at as routine for years, in a different way.  I find that I am mesmerized by the way the birds are lined up on telephone poles, the gracefulness of the bare tree branches, the color of the sky and the clouds, and the sunset.  As I drive up my driveway, I smile at the squirrels that scurry by, chasing each other up and down the trees.  I stop for a moment to listen to the rustle of the leaves and see a lone hot pink flower poking out among them, defying the laws of nature. I am sorry that haven’t taken the opportunity to appreciate my own environment and see for the first time, the beauty that I have been missing.

I even have my very own Aardvark right here, at home!  She does not have a long snout or big ears and her name is Olivia. She eats squash and avocado rather than insects, but she has a smile that fills my heart with joy and everything she does is a miracle.  I hope that I will never stop searching for the Aardvark, but I am very satisfied by the one that puts so much magic in my life!

Olivia, my very own Aardvark!