I get up early and am out the day and on the road at daybreak, about forty minutes before sunrise. It is cool about 19 or 20C and a great breeze. Perfect for me, although the first people I see are in sweaters. I stride along at a comfortable pace. The sun is starting to come up and paints the mundane, the shabby and the poor houses with a golden-rose hue that renders everything beautiful.
I reach the park at 7:15 am and although it is not officially open until 7:30, the gate is open and I enter and hit the trails. I am soon rewarded for my efforts to be there so early and properly camouflaged. Or is it the fact that I am now an experienced game hunter and see with radar eyes through all the vegetation and low Savannah type acacia trees? Somehow, I doubt that. I do see lots of impala, however. Or have they seen me first and raised their snorting like alarm which is what got my attention? Who cares? They are there and quite a few of them. I see them from time to time though out my 3 hours in the park.
With my trusty Pentax loaded and cocked, seeking big game, I become the stealthy Safari Sam, surreptitiously stalking the sleek impala, the kudus and other game, but mostly startling them as they see or me first! After many impala, later I do see several kudus and some monkeys. All are wary and do not hang around long.
In my travels, I see geckos and small lizards darting out of the trail at lightning speed. An amazing 5 centimetre long bug [and about 3 cm wide] crosses my path. I almost walk right into a huge cobweb, strategically constructed across the open area of the trail, catching the sunlight and a few other things. The fibres are strong and in the center sits a beautiful spider with a leg span of about 10 cm. It has interesting orange colouration but it is gone before I get my camera out and ready.
The vegetation in the park bordering on the Thamalakane River is thicker and taller, mostly broad leafed plants and trees. About a kilometre from the river it changes to a veldt like appearance, with lots of grasses open areas and more drought resistant trees like the low and defended acacia trees with their very small leaves that giraffes daintily browse on from above.
After three hours I leave the park and head back home along the river. The weekend gathering of young men in their cars and pickups with their Rasta-rap music filling the air for their Sunday morning soccer match, is underway. I don’t see much soccer happening, just lots of calling back and forth; but they are in their soccer shirts, shorts and socks, so all is as it should be.
As the time inches towards noon and the sun blazes higher, I head on to the home stretch, down the last two, sandy kilometres with the temperature rising and the heat reflected off the hot, light sand into my face, I am taken back to my high-school summers. I am conveyed to the Powerline Road in Copetown, Ontario about 25 kilometres west of Hamilton. It is a dusty, rural gravel road that I live on. I am walking home from having worked at some neighbours’ farm bringing in the second cut hay. I walk in shimmering heat, during the dog days of late August with the crickets barely chirping, the golden rod in complete bloom and not a breath of air stirring. Dusty, parched and tired, I am home.