After the tub, I have some breakfast and decide to go outside and see if I can get a photo of the kiewiet from last night. I have to negotiate a series of locks, for which I have been left the keys but which are unfamiliar and I instantly succeed in locking myself out. I struggle a bit, jimmying the locks and pulling at the gates, and then become all self-conscious of the neighbours. I decide to go for my walk and try again when I am calm and collected. The pack greets me and my crotch with now-familiar enthusiasm, and then they three settle down to gnaw at their sticks.
I unlatch the gate (being careful to avoid the electric fence) and let myself out. I am a little nervous. Last night’s conversation did find its way to violence and the realities of modern South Africa, and I know I am alone for several more hours. I tell myself I am being ridiculous – which is certainly not unheard of – and I take a few tentative steps away from the gate. Behind the fence the pack watches me with interest. Feigning a casual demeanor that I do not feel in my heart I set of towards the mushroomery and it’s not long at all before the kiewiet begins to complain about my trespass.
I pick out the flash of white against the dusty ground and squat with my camera at the ready. It’s yelling at me with an unmistakeable tone: if it had fists, it’d be shaking them. I snap a few photos, but the bird is squatting as well, pressing its body against the ground. I stand, hoping to move closer and get a better shot, and the kiewiet stands, too. Quickly, I lower myself to take aim with the camera. The bird squats, hiding itself among the brush. I stand; the bird stands. I squat; the bird squats.
I stand and walk several paces, and the bird, too, strides along. It climbs atop a mound of dirt and turns toward me, evidently furious. It shrieks and gabbles. It is then that I notice a second bird atop a second mound, also raising an unholy racket. Mind, I am a full 15 feet from the closest bird – hardly an impending threat. I am about to raise my camera to my eye when I notice Prince, the farm horse, walking toward me. I stand and look at him approaching. Typically, I am not afraid of horses but there is something about his displeased stride that makes me pause. Prince walks right up to me and puts his face near mine. I swear he raises an eyebrow as if to say, “What’s all this, then?” but of course being an Afrikaaner horse it would be more like “Vaaten die mooer, kap?” (For those of you keeners out there, don’t bother referencing this; I made it up.)
I take the hint and decide today is not a good day to be trampled by an over-protective horse. I head back to the house.
The front door is still impenetrable so I try the side door. I am delighted when the gate swings open and I can let myself in. In the kitchen I make a cup of tea and as I am pouring in the milk, Prince saunters by the window. He turns his head and holds my gaze until he is out of sight.