January Hedge a gram
Joe and I spent two weeks in Botswana in the Okavango Delta several years ago to see the diverse animal population for my work for On Noah's Ark. During the day, we were guided by our guide, Ali Tiego who knows where to spot plants and animals and then describe their intricate histories and relationships. In the evening came our questions and sometimes a story. Around the campfire, Ali told us the legend of the honeyguide bird. It's true that this bird will search either for a person or for one animal, the honey badger, and then leads the person or the honey badger to a wild bee hive intending to get a share of the honey. A person with tools, or a badger with claws can break open the tree. The legend is, that if you don't share, the next time the honeyguide bird will lead you to a lion!
Ali taught us to be aware that large cats could be hiding anywhere in the Eden like landscape and especially in the candle pod acacia which forms a leafy umbrella. In Tswana, the language of Botswana, this shrub is called "The house of the lion". That shrub makes an appearance about half way thru the book.
The cream colored beads found in the border of my book are made by the San people out of pieces of ostrich egg that are filed in a smooth circle. The slender striped sticks are quills from the African porcupine. Botswana is famous for its basket ware and we admire our collection made by women we met on our trip. The baskets are crafted from the mokolwane palm, and dyed with plants found in the Delta. The patterns have wonderful names like "Python", "Tears of Giraffe", and "Knees of Tortoise".
On our second trip to Botswana, Ali gave us our first glimpse of a honeyguide bird, it was chirping wildly, announcing that it had found a bee hive. We found the hive in the cleft of a 1,000 old baobob tree. No one was going to cut it down!
Everyone who visits the Okavango Delta is stunned by how news mysteriously travels although there are no telephones. One person tells another and so on. It's the bush telegraph, we were told. An experienced guide like Ali is always listening, a yelp or a guinea fowl cackle spells out a whole story if you know what to listen for.
Botswana has large game parks reserved for its wildlife and we thank the Botswana people for sharing their country. As a thank you, we are supporting Doug and Sandy Grove with their elephant project, Living with The Elephants Foundation, which brings local children into the bush to learn about nature and their elephants.
Good luck and happy reading. Your friend,