May 17, 2018
                          No. 219

A Harmonious Bunch

I didn’t notice him until I was perhaps two meters beside him.My walk this morning was glorious!

The birds were singing, the geese were honking, the air was still, the sun was grasping the edges of the horizon. The young rabbit sat there, eyed me for a second, but didn’t move as I passed by.

A short distance further, I happened upon another one. He didn’t bother to move either. Rabbits in Mill Lake Park are used to people, I suppose. 

Geese and ducks were everywhere, too, proud mothers parading their little goslings. Playful squirrels mingled among their feathered neighbours. Human, bird and animal species all intermixed, comfortable around each other. Such a peaceful co-existence!As I pondered this idyllic arrangement, I thought of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a song about a better world.  One line goes: “Imagine all the people, living life in peace.” So I tried to imagine.

And then I remembered last night’s news.

  • Massive demonstrations and even killings in Israel because an embassy move disrespects one side of a divided people. 

  • A whole family blows themselves up in a co-ordinated series of suicide bombings because of a religiously divided humanity. 

  • Meanwhile, political tensions in Nicaragua force us (West Adventures) to abort half of our “Heart of Central America” trip now in progress and, spur-of-the-moment, fly our clients over the country to the safer haven of Costa Rica.

Sure, animals don’t always live in peace, any more than humans. But often they have learned to do so, especially where humans have given them that freedom. It was a beautiful picture, though, of what might be, if we all stopped dividing the world into two groups: “Us” and “Them.”Then I thought about another scene from my past, similar and on a grander scale to what I was currently witnessing. I was with a group of travellers in Namibia, and we’d gone to “the watering hole” in Etosha National Park to observe the wildlife. What unfolded before our eyes was magical; it couldn’t have been better scripted. Here’s what I wrote in my journal that night:

The Watering Hole
Monday, April 6, 2009, 5:05 pm:

The scene: an oval-shaped watering hole, with a leafy green tree at its near centre. A dirt and rocky surface rises fairly steeply around it for about 100 ft. back. We are parked at the front edge. Behind, and about ¾ of the way around, the slope gives way to a flat, grassy area, perhaps 700 ft. deep, at which point the forest begins—typical African forest—low trees, very broad and leafy, with single trunks and no undergrowth. Off in the left centre, the grassy area protrudes a little further into the forest, interrupted with a few scattered trees.

A herd of wildebeests, perhaps 20, grazes in this (protruded) area, roughly where the forest edge would be if not for the protrusion of grasslands. Nearer the watering hole, and off to the left, there is a herd of impala approaching the watering hole. Across the watering hole, on the savannah and approaching the slope of the hole is a scattered herd of zebras. A cute baby zebra lies beneath her mother. At the tree-line, back right, stand three giraffes carefully spaced apart, as if acting as sentries over the scene. The sky, dotted with pleasant clouds, is beginning to show the first glorious shimmering rays of dusk.

A few zebras make their way down to the water and begin to drink, then slowly back off. Meanwhile, four impalas approach the watering hole from the left and begin drinking, as well. Two jackals appear from the left and trot gracefully across the middle of the savannah. The other animals take no notice of the jackals but, immediately after, the baby zebra rises to stand beside her mother.

The sudden move startles the impala, and three of them race out of the scene to the left at full speed, while the fourth seems not to have noticed.

Two wildebeest suddenly approach the scene from behind our vantage point, and a fourth giraffe comes into the scene from the left. One wildebeest goes down to the front side of the water for a short drink. Meanwhile, the herd of zebras begins to make their way out of the scene, around the front of our truck. The giraffe has joined the other three giraffes and appears to be guarding the mother zebra and her baby, who are now dead centre, front, half-ways back on the savannah.

Then three of the giraffes begin to gradually approach the water, while the far right one disappears from the scene. Meanwhile, a very large herd of impala scamper toward the watering hole from out of the scene on the right. They race joyfully and begin to drink, many at once. While the first wildebeest retreats, the second wanders around the hole toward the impalas, but they take no notice. All is at peace!

The colours of dusk are painting the sky in pastel hues. As the impala complete their co-ordinated drink, they just as quickly turn and head back along the trail from which they came. The zebras have, by now, mostly disappeared from the scene. The wildebeest herd has remained in the distance. 

The scene is left to the three giraffes. One approaches the water and awkwardly bends down to drink while the other two watch. As the first one retreats from the water, the other two also turn and slowly amble off the scene, which is now almost bare, except for the birds and the many unseen smaller creatures of nature.

Forty minutes after arrival, the human visitors also leave, to once again find the pride of lions they’d left forty-five minutes earlier.

Let the credits roll!

If only our world were like that. We can only imagine!

We can take baby steps in that direction, though—when we stop dividing the world into two.

At least, that’s how I see it . . .