Wild Honey - Extract 2
An orphaned honey badger joins Richard and Bookey Peek on Stone Hills, their wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe's Matobo Hills. Badge grows up under the guidance of the Peek's until they can successfully reintroduce him into the wild. Wild Honey is a delightful account of the day-to-day adventures and unforgettable animals they look after.
Right from the start, mornings were Badge’s worst time. Like a temperamental child, he had to be woken gently with soft words and always an outstretched hand so that he could smell exactly who you were. Even after that, he never leaped out of bed; he took ages to stretch and yawn and roll about on his blankets before he was ready to face the world. Although nothing much interested him before the sun was up, I loved those early walks, for where I would normally have been striding out with Nandi at my side, I was now grounded with the badger, taking endless delight in the transformation of Stone Hills from winter to a glorious summer.
There is no escape from the blistering heat of October, the world has been in waiting too long, and with the first November showers, everything springs into action, from the scarlet velvet mites dotted about in the veld, to the newly arrived red-chested cuckoo shouting ‘Piet my vrou!’ from the treetops. Within hours, butterflies are on the wing and the air is alive with the sounds of buzzing, humming and chirping. And each year I wonder the same thing: where they have all come from? Where do they hide through the long months of winter, when the grass crumbles like dry toast under your feet? November is the month of miracles. Within a mere half-hour of the rains, the dead leaves of the resurrection bushes on the hillsides come alive, turning before your eyes from brittle brown to a sweet-smelling green. They say that if you cut a sprig and keep it for ten years, it will flush as soon as you put it into water.
The air is redolent with the scent of camphor and pine, and as I walk among the rocks I crush a few of the tiny leaves and put them in my shirt pocket; they remind me of a day in bed as a child, the warm, comforting smell of Vicks rubbed on your chest by gentle hands, the footsteps along the passage bringing boiled eggs, toast and Marmite to your cosy nest, while everyone else is at school. Africans treat chest pains and asthma with the smoke from the leaves of the bush, which, dried and powdered, are also effective in the treatment of burns and wounds.
From my window, a carpet of thick couch grass covers the prickly patches of brown scarred with hundreds of termite workings that I have looked on all winter; and as Johnson pushes his mower up and down, the clean, fresh smell of cut grass comes drifting through the house. And I wish, as I al-ways do, that I could distil some of these sounds, the smells and the light into a bottle, so by opening it ever so slightly I could keep experiencing them all over again whenever I wanted.
Title: Wild Honey
Author: Bookey Peek
Publisher: Penguin Books SA
Available at all good book stores
Click here to read another extract from Wild Honey.
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