Friday, December 17, 2010

a typical morning

I thought you might be interested in a typical morning for me. I woke up at around 6:30 this morning and started getting ready for the day. While I was slathering on the sunscreen, I heard Pickles growl out on the front porch. I went out and found her in full combat with one of the fully grown ostriches here on Harnas. It seems the ostrich was coming to see if I wanted to feed her, and Pickles had a problem with that. I broke it up, sent the ostrich on her way, and finished getting ready while I drank a cup of coffee.

Next Pickles and I went on our own morning feeding tour. I always bring peanuts to Harnas--unshelled--and I give one each morning to the 2 big red macaws, Tumela the African grey parrot (who talks to me--"hello""lapa lapa lapa" "tu MEL a"), then out to the garden to give nuts to the three young vervet monkeys and finally several to Audrey, the blind vervet monkey, who likes to find the peanut in my pockets.

I also say hello to the two baby baboons that I'm assisting in babysitting right now. I put them to bed last night (bottles and diapers--and some screaming), and Angela, the volunteer who is taking the bulk of the responsibility, got them up this morning.

On to the year old baby baboon enclosure, where I play with the wild six of them. Coco grooms me (I guess she didn't think I did a good enough job back at my bungalow). Now that I'm sure I'm groomed and lice-free, I head to the lapa with Pickles across the grass.

On the way, I break up a fight between a peacock and a rooster (???????). They can't be fighting over the same female, can they? I also watch while the 7 baby ostriches run across the grass, following by Summer--the baby springbok who follows them all day. I think she doesn't know she's a springbok and has adopted the ostriches as her herd/flock.

I leave Pickles at the gate to the cheetahs and spend some quality time with Duma and Goeters, petting and purring, purring and petting. Having made my connection with them and completed my morning meditation, I sit down at the lapa where I watch a volunteer feed one of the two baby donkeys (whose fur is as soft as duck down). The donkey then comes over to my table and sucks on my fingers just in case there might be milk hiding in there.

Petrus brings me coffee, juice, yogurt, and fruit. Cornelia and Willi (friends from Munich) join me for breakfast and fill me in on how the baby caracals are doing. Marieta left them in charge, and the two kittens are about the cutest thing you ever saw. Their eyes are open now, and they've turned into squealers and runners. Cornelia has to bottle feed them every four hours, so they stay at their house.

After breakfast I go find Annika (the amazing artist who is here at Harnas--and whom I've commissioned to paint me one of her astounding new "blue" paintings--more on that later). We leave Pickles inside the lapa gates and walk out to Zion and Trust's enclosure. The brother lions come to the gate and let us pet their faces while they rub on the gate. Then--for the THIRD TIME in the past week--Zion quickly turns around and sprays urine all over Willi!! (Apparently, it's a sign of dominance, and he only does it to males). The three of us women laugh, of course, and Willi looks down at his wet shorts and shoes.

Then off I go to my bungalow, where Pickles awaits me on the front porch. She somehow sneaks out when someone opens the gate to the lapa and heads out to find me. If she can't, she goes to the bungalow and waits. What a girl.

So about 2 1/2 hours have passed since I woke up, and the day has been exactly what I want it to be--and it's only the morning. I can say to myself that no matter what happens the rest of the day, it's been a day worth living already.

The magic of Harnas repeats itself every morning.

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