We left the farm in November to spend a few days in the bush. Peter’s family have a share in a lodge in Mashatu on the banks of the Limpopo River and we congregate there once or twice a year. The lodge is a peaceful place and the game viewing is spectacular. It is a place for deep refection and peace, where the pressures of life dissipate and the soul can recharge.
One afternoon we sat with a glass of ice cold white wine in hand as we watched a herd of elephant playing in the waterhole.
Then a miracle happened. Twenty-two months after her encounter with her mate, on this hot summer day in the riverbed not 30 metres from where we sat, an elephant gave birth. For the next two hours we watched the outpouring of love, family, and attention that comprise the heritage of a baby elephant. He will grow up bearing a name that we gave him, witnesses to this rarest of sights.
As we spoke around the fire that night, I reflected on the experience and the profound impact it had on me. This has been a difficult year. Witnessing the birth of this beautiful creature brought, I said “an element of hope to the year”. “You mean an elephant of hope”, quipped Peter’s cousin, Yvonne.
Yes, an elephant of hope. The hope that every new life will encounter a better world. That we might preserve this lovely place where he was born so that in 50 years he may stride the land, massive and magnificent. That we might preserve a climate that provides him with the water he drank on his first day at this watering hole in the Limpopo River. That our grandchildren may encounter his. That we will live in a world that continues to care for nature and the earth’s heritage.
An elephant of hope that no matter how hard our lives may seem, life goes on and at times we must simply bear it and at others we may rejoice. Sometimes the two overlap one another at a terrifying speed, offering despair and opportunity in equal measures.
I write this blog primarily to share the flowers that grow on the farm, and I only post photos that I have taken on the farm. But as Georgie was quick enough to capture the birth of our elephant, I shall break my rule this once and have uploaded the videos of that and of him getting on his feet for the first time.
Back on the farm we have stepped up the running and I feel fitter, stronger and more at peace with the world. The flowers are fewer than in wetter years, but they never fail to surprise and delight me – the joy of turning a corner and seeing the magnificently named Wachendorfia paniculata shining against the sandy bank, or the blue powderpuff suddenly appear on the path ahead. The world cannot be a bad place while the elephant still roam and the land is full of flowers, the house full of dogs and the sun sets magnificently behind Table Mountain, turning our Hawequas Mountains a brilliant pink.