‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.’
The move to this farm has been one of the hardest moves I have ever made in my life. It was just difficult. I have loved the Lowveld since I can remember and in 2012 we moved from the warm, sunny, beautiful Lowveld with its rivers, wildlife and trees to the Eastern Free State. The Eastern Freestate seemed cold and unknown to me. We moved right into probably the coldest winter I had ever experienced. I had a tough time adapting and we had a busy time getting to know our new life and responsibilities. All I wanted to do was to go back where we came from.
Shortly after our arrival, there was the arrival of Chipo. The little Springbuck, born in the camp and left under a bush. Chipo, meaning ‘gift from God’ in Shona. She was a gift in my mind, a ‘welcome here’ gift. I took her and started raising her. She sadly died a month later. But then,to mend my broken heart, the hyena Crocuta was born and I had the opportunity to raise an amazing wild creature.
Slowly but surely, as summer brought with it all the splendour that everyone in the Eastern Freestate knows so well, I fell in love with it all.
There was just so much to love at our new home. A little herd of Nyalas living around my house, my baby Crocuta, the whooping call of the hyenas, the roar of the lions. Guineafowl in our garden, a giant tortoise that entertained us from time to time. I fell in love with the rocky outcrops, the grassy fields, the sandstone buildings, the abundant birdlife, the game drives, the walks, the sunsets that lit up the mountains. Starry summer nights with the sound of bats and the call of the Freckled Nightjar. Long, light summer days with many animal youngsters to photograph. There were also many firsts. First time to see Aardvark and Aardwolf, first time to fly in a helicopter, first game count, first time to raise an hyena, first time to see lion cubs on the day they were born, first time seeing many new bird species.
The Eastern Freestate people with their kind hearts and warm hospitality. The staff team on the farm that walked such a long road with us. They all played a part in making our journey memorable.
Meeting people from across the globe, serving meals, setting tables, campfires, the excitement of big safaris were all part of our everyday life. I have loved the buzz in the kitchen at the end of a day, just before a meal had to be served. The sense of friendship and shared appreciation with people you have just met. Preparing to surprise guests with sundowners on a hill overlooking the reserve or a lunch at the deck overlooking the dam with hippos. Saying goodbye to people after a few days, feeling that maybe you knew them your entire life.
How do you say goodbye to all of this?
I think you simply don’t.
You leave, but it stays put in a part of your heart.
The time has come for us to pack up our bags and start a new season, learn new things and find new adventures. But the memories of this time passed are coming with…