August 31, 2010

unwrapping friendship

Last week I received a surprise from a friend. A friend from way back when... I marched in my own high school band. Years have gone by, but through the magic of facebook, a friendship has been renewed. We trade sighs over sunsets or sunrises... and we share love for one certain beautiful lighthouse, and all that surrounds it. Tidbits of our now life mixed all in between, and that in itself is a gift... loving the silver and the gold of friendship, and stirring it all together. But there was another gift... one that arrived buried in pink peanuts and wrapped in pink bubblewrap...

A thank you for the gift of friendship, for all that our friendship is about. Knowing that there is something that makes her think of me and smile would have been more than enough for this heart... but she went that extra mile, and thank you just doesn't seem enough.

Oh, how I cherish the friendships in my life... one of the most beautiful gifts that god lavished upon us. Somefriends we chat with over coffee, others by instant message.  And some... we read the words that have spilled out over their hearts onto this glowing screen. All real. All dear to the heart. All a gift... and most certainly worthy of a Tuesday.


August 29, 2010

coming around again

It was a week full of crazy.
The first home game of the season should have been calmer, and... at home. But some things are not meant to be, and there is just nothing that can be done about defective turf, or the downpours that soaked the evenings past saturation. Or even lightening delays.
But when all of what needed to happen to get us there and out onto the field was said and done... there was just enough time to climb up into the stands and find a seat, just a bit weary from the process.
And then it happened.
That bit of silence just before the National Anthem begins... that breath of time when there is nothing but anticipation. Oh, the anticipation! Of the song, the game... marching band season.
It comes again... faithfully.

And at the end of our Friday night, when my voice was strained from cheering, for the band and for the team, victory won out over exhaustion. And it didn't matter a lick that the bears won their home game on someone elses field.
Nope... not a bit. 
Because my beautiful fall Fridays are back, right where they belong.


August 26, 2010

photos by cam

He's my CAM-era Guy... and I loved seeing Africa though his lens.

August 25, 2010

we were not trampled

We may have sorta been charged by an elephant.
If you had seen his ears thrashing you would know there is no sorta about it. I guess elephants don't particularly care for safari vehicles speeding up at them from behind. Or people yelling in excitement and fear. I had to zoom out to get this picture...

It is the last one I took... because after that I ducked down into the safety of the vehicle. Eric had the flip video out recording him- and it is crazy to watch. I wish I could show it to you, I really do... but both he and my Mom swore, and I'm not putting that up here! Anyway, then he dropped the camera. I don't know if that was because of the huge elephant staring us down, or my Mom swearing, but either way, it is a nice tour of the back of my Mom's head and the interior of the Land Rover.  
Once the elephant tired of us, or realized we were swiftly moving in reverse, he headed off in another direction. And another vehicle (that was stopped.) We watched (from a distance this time) and it looked like he may have gotten close enough to lick the window, but we really couldn't be sure. At any rate, the visitors in that vehicle probably got some great close-up pictures... if they weren't hiding under the seats.

Moving on down the road, the elephant was walking parallel to us. We were being brave, and standing up out the top of the vehicle (quietly this time!) but I think he was looking at us.  As he moved on forward, pushing over and through small trees,  I told Laura If he turns toward us, GET DOWN!
After we had had our fill of elephant watching, we headed on out to the main gate and the happy room... laughing all the way.  Turns out that one of our other vehicles was just up the road from us and saw the whole thing!  So we had our story, and they had one, too!  I think George knew exactly what he was doing... I only wish that Cam & Bob had been in our car, too! 

August 24, 2010

when you have the chance to sit it out or dance...

I was excited at the prospect of visiting the Maasai village... until we were actually on our way. The fear crept up on me and as the kilometers between us and the village disappeared, so did my desire to be there. What exactly was I afraid of? Being social, I suppose... and not being able to make the most of an opportunity. I knew we would be invited to interact with the people, but as we bumped closer and closer, all I wanted to do was stay in the truck.

Even as we climbed down from the Land Rover, and we were surrounded by the little children, my instinct was to hold back. Looking over to Laura, I saw her in the midst of little ones clamoring over her to see their image on the display of her camera. So I began taking her picture...until I was utterly mesmerized by the parade of women making their way towards us singing their foreign song. Before I knew what was happening, I was taken by the hand, beaded collars passed over my head and I was being draped in fabric. And then... we danced.

I tried to repeat the foreign song and succumbed to laughter as I failed, as did Ava, my newest friend. I briskly handed over my camera, my jacket and every bit of fear I had padded my heart with, and I danced... with abandon and laughter and... joy. How welcomed and free I felt... and I recognized the gift that had been given.   I turned to Ava and asked her How do I say thank you?  She smiled and coached me through the syllables until I could repeat it... ashinanay.  And when I thought I finally had it right, I looked into her eyes, took her hand and thanked her, in her own language, for the beauty she had shared with me.  

While we were in the small village, we thatched the roof of a hut and Camden helped mud the inside (with a mud that surely included elephant poop.) We shared conversations about their life, and ours... and then we shopped from the array of treasures they layed out in our honor. Many times during our visit I turned to Ava and repeated the words she had taught me... ashinanay.  But when it was time, I said goodbye in the language of the heart... a hug.  Before we climbed back into the truck, I stood with my Mom for a moment and we turned for a last glimpse together.  Then put my arms around her sobbed a thank you.

That evening, at dinner, George (one of our wonderful drivers!) asked me if I had enjoyed the visit to the village.  I answered without hesitation Oh, yes!  George smiled, and told me that he had seen me dancing and laughing... and then he asked Why did you have tears?  With a deep sigh, I thought about the time we had spent with the Maasai, and then answered. They were so welcoming and open to us. They shared so much and the beauty struck my heart. And I cried... because... it was so very beautiful to me, and then because I might not ever pass this way again.
Maybe I will, and maybe I won't... but driving away from the beauty, I told my heart in no uncertain terms... to banish the fear.  I almost let it take away one of the most unique experiences of my life, and I would have been sorry... forever.   And this life we are given... it is not to be missed!

Today I celebrate breaking through the fear to find beauty within... and the beautiful and extraordinary place that brought me through it.  Thank you, Emily... for creating a place to celebrate a Tuesday.


August 23, 2010

first day, new year...

Are they ready to go back? people ask. I think long and hard, and finally dredge up an answer. Laura has been at band camp all week, so she already feels like school started, and Cam? Oh, he's up for anything!
It's true.
She's been sweating in the sunshine and dripping in the rain... and it feels like she never left. Laughing with friends, talking about schedules and teachers... and she's happy. I hated to speak the words aloud, but this afternoon I did... Now that band camp is over, you only have to do it one more time! And after Monday? Only one "first day of high school" left. And Laura, she sent me the same bittersweet smile that my heart was feeling.

He really is up for anything. Though he lives for lazy Saturday mornings and teacher work days, and starts counting down the remaining months of school after Christmas Break... he really likes school. His friends, learning new stuff, finding he can excel. And this is his last year of middle school, which means that in a few short weeks he will have the chance to march onto the football field and get a taste of marching band for one night.  Time is a-flying.

So off they went... smiles on somewhat-sleepy faces, and photos of Africa in their backpacks.
Oh, I hope they have to write What I did on Summer Vacation!


August 20, 2010

from my notebook

After so few days here,  I have become accustomed to weaving my way out of the mosquito net that canopies my bed and listening to the million voices that sing the song of the serengeti through the trees.
How will I ever leave this place?
I already know... this place will never leave me.

August 19, 2010

tarangire, part 2

With a memory of yesterday, so warm and wonderful, I underdressed for the chill of the morning drive... but I had not a complaint in the world, as the overcast morning was laden with surprises to unfold.   Cam and Bob rode in a different vehicle, and it was fun to catch a glimpse of them now and again through the dust... and maybe blow a kiss or two as we passed.

The first hour was quiet... and so still. Bumping around the bend in the road, we found ourselves overlooking the river, and my breath was taken away... yet again. I cannot get over the magnitude of this place... and I know that this vastness cannot possibly be captured on film. So I look, and pray... to always remember the greatness.

And while I was still reeling from the view... elephants appeared along the path. I may have snapped the shutter a thousand times, but made sure to just watch them, too. To stand in awe of God's creation, and the small space between them and me. And this little one, about two weeks old? How could I not fall in love?

Much later in the ride... we came across a road block of vehicles, which, when you are out on safari, means that there is something incredible to see. Eyes in motion, looking for a prize... and there she was. A leopard, hunting in the rocks.
 To see this beautiful creature in motion was a gift... and oh my girl, lover of all cats, was in her glory. We watched the leopard stalk and miss, sun herself and then pounce off out of sight. All I could do was rest my face next to Laura's and whisper words of love. And thankfulness.


August 18, 2010

wordless wednesday

(happy birthday, mom... i love you!)

August 17, 2010

tarangire, part 1

How do I possibly put into words... the day and the emotions wrapped around it? Beyond spectacular? Amazingly awesome? All that... and more. If I had to go home tomorrow, I would leave with a smile.

We squished in, the six of us, for the very first game drive. It was important for my Mom to have us all together, at least this first time. Shoes off, standing on the seats so that we could be out the top of the Land Rover, and holding on for dear life... we sped out onto the rutted road in a storm of dust. The sun was warm on my face and the wind whipped my hair all about, leaving me wondering why I spent an ounce of energy on bemoaning no hair dryer. I squealed as the wildebeests and zebras crossed the road... and reminded myself I wasn't in Animal Kingdom anymore.

Several times during the afternoon I would stop and just take in the magnificent view, and my heart spoke pinch me, we are really here in this very real place. And then... I would squeeze my eyes shut, to hold back the tears, and purse my lips to stop the gasp and sob that lurched in my throat.
There seemed to be no end to the life around us. Herds of zebra and wildebeests, elephants and warthogs and monkeys... and the most beautiful view down river.

My heart spoke again this is the best day ever... but when my voice tried to speak aloud, it came out in sobs while I was wrapped in my Mother's arms.

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