Some stages of writing enforce a kind reclusiveness, a withdrawal from real events outside story-making. I am presently in that place. When not working, I have been occupying myself with mundane chores, anything that isn’t mental or creative. Today I cleaned out a bunch of photos, coming across some pictures from a trip along the Chobe river in Botswana about eight years ago. We were living in South Africa then, and had gone on holiday to Victoria Falls, which is on the border with Zambia and Zimbabwe. At the end of that trip, we went up to Botswana and spent a day on a very small flat-bottom boat on the Chobe River. One group of these pictures had me thinking about friendship, wondering if elephants are better at it than humans? Another photo brought to mind the extraordinary, probably instinctual protectiveness of a parent toward a child. Here is that picture. We end returning to the world as it really is.
A baby hippo does not leave the water where it is born for weeks. During that time, the mother remains in the water to guard her baby. Not visible in the picture, but off to the right side, there is a crocodile. While we watched, and presumably for as long as the danger lasts, the mother hippo moved to keep her body between the croc and her baby. The croc would enter the water to the right, and she would move between; then to the left, and she would move between. Our guide said this could go on all day, until the croc went off in search of an easier meal.
The following group of pictures illustrate the helping hand idea, or a helping trunk, in this case. This also occurred on the Chobe, but further downstream. There is an island not far from the shore, and the river here isn’t especially deep. For reasons I don’t understand, elephants cross the river at this spot to get to the island, where they more or less stand around. It is a bare island, nothing there for them to eat. Maybe they just like a little holiday on an island. All but one elephant handily climbed out of the river and onto the island, but the last one, no matter how hard she tried, could not get out of the river.
Finally, back to the real world … an Iguana snacking on a Chobe River catfish. For perspective on the size of the fish, the Iguana is about 7 feet long, and all you see here left is its head.
I suppose we all have friends of both kinds.