A drive in the garden is always a good way to spend your Sunday… a good way to relax from the hustle of the week and spend some time with the creation of God… come face to face with His reality, and escape the one that we human beings create for ourselves daily. So we decided with a couple of friends to go on a game drive last Sunday, and went searching around for predators for a while but could only find Zebra, Impala and Thompsons gazelles… oh, and a warthog…all by his lonesome self.
We also went to the watering hole in the hope of finding some but none were there to be seen ..just the ever attention-seeking hippo and the myriad of birds that roam the garden. We drove away seeking the elusive predators. Searching for lion, leopard, cheetah, we drove on and on, trying this trick and the other … anything that we have been told we could use to find the elusive cats… ‘Try in the bushy areas… leopards are usually found around the trees we told our colleague who had taken the task of driving us through the garden. But they were proving rather elusive.
2 hours later, after much searching around the garden, we drove back to the watering hole. Maybe the hippo would perform some acrobatics and we would call it a day.
There were lots and lots of Zebra by then, all around the watering hole, peacefully grazing. As we approached them along the dirt road, the Zebra parted to give us way, only to reveal the pride of lions behind then only 10 meters away. We exclaimed: ‘Look how close they are!’ We were all so surprised we exclaimed in unison: ‘I have never seen predator and prey so close together in peace!’ The Zebra were more irritated by the sound of our vehicle engine (and possibly our loud exclamations) than they had been by the presence of the lions, and they began to move away.
The lions behind the Zebras were 5 in total. Cubs that were rather large for their age my colleagues said. If asked, I would have called them adults, they were so big. They were still spotted which apparently indicates youth. They were so spotted that they could almost be mistaken for leopard. But 2 of the male cubs were already sporting a young mane. It was almost unnoticeable, but was there all the same. As we pulled off the track and sat watching the cubs laze about in the grass we realized that we had probably passed right by them earlier as they hid in the tall grass.
Across from us on the other side of the watering hole were 4 more lions under the shade of another tree – 3 cubs on one side of the tree and one lioness on the other side. A few meters in front of the lioness right at the edge of the bank, a crocodile was basking under the glow of the setting sun… and the hippo was still playing in the water. There were birds of all types, that I cannot name (spare me, I am still more of a techie, you know J), and the crocodiles just stayed on the bank of the watering hole with their jaws wide open apparently ‘waiting for the birds to come and clean their teeth’. Hmmm…?
As the sun continued its long walk to the other side of the garden, the Zebras queued to the watering hole to take a drink, perhaps in preparation for the dangers that lie ahead, when the predators come to life again… ready for the hunt. They wouldn’t be able to come to the watering hole again, until the morning. It was too dangerous to drink in the dark I think. There were hundreds of them… and yes, we knew, that night, at least one of them would go down and into the mouth of the king of beasts.
The lioness on the far bank began to take an interest in the herd of Zebra and raised her head. It was almost meal time… She was inching closer yet the Zebra did not seem to notice they were about to become dead meat… perhaps she was still too far away? The lioness inched closer, and closer… and to the disappointment of the Zebra that had not yet taken a drink, the whole herd had to move away. The distance between predator and prey was now counted in hundreds of meters.
The lioness gave up. Her belly was still swollen from the meal she had eaten earlier that day, so this was just a game. These lions were certainly well fed. We drove round to the other side of the bank and stayed close to the lioness clicking our cameras away. The cubs converged on their mother, who then led them to the bank of the watering hole where the Zebra herd had just been.
They drank and played like cats and kittens would while the hippo kept up her antics – making as if to come out of the watering hole, just to make sure we were still watching her play … as if to say: “I am still here, you know! Look at me!”. The other cubs and lioness came round to join their friends at the watering hole, playfully swatting each other as they jumped and called. And the crocodiles, you ask? They were still by the bank on the other side of the watering hole with their mouths open… ‘waiting for the birds to come and clean their teeth’.
As the orange glow of the setting sun covered the lovely scene, I prayed in my heart and said: ‘God, thank you for this wonderful experience filled with love and a true sense of wellness within and all around me’
Come … walk with me in the Garden
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