During the past few weeks, the flavor that's refreshed and intrigued my imagination has been dinosaur hunting. Is it a sort of birding? Khaki colors, elephant bracelets, rooibos tea, aussie hats, tracking, animal identification, raptor behavior, authority, bush-tall grass-forests, taxonomies, photography. How it got started, I can't remember. Couldn't even remember two weeks into the fascination.
I've been playing as Lego versions of Robert Muldoon and Roland Tembo and realized that I didn't know anything about big game hunting. So I started reading the safari journals of a fellow named Frederick Courteney Selous. He lived during the 19th century, exploring and hunting in Matabeleland. His writing style is quite approachable, though I needed to learn some new vocabulary like assegai and spoor. I've been enjoying reading this in the evenings. Selous' brother was an ornithologist and has written books about bird watching and bird behavior - which I hope to read next.
In a way, I sometimes feel like a hunter. I like to search out the curious things which have struck my fancy. Collect forms and images and things that gleam with a certain meaning. Gather together details that relate to one another. Uncover teas, ships, birds, colors that I'd never heard of. Try on all sorts of hats and run around in water shoes. Am I, like Grant, a digger?
“Surely there is a mine for silver,
And a place where gold is refined.
Iron is taken from the earth,
And copper is smelted from ore.
Man puts an end to darkness,
And searches every recess
For ore in the darkness and the shadow of death.
He breaks open a shaft away from people;
In places forgotten by feet
They hang far away from men;
They swing to and fro.
As for the earth, from it comes bread,
But underneath it is turned up as by fire;
Its stones are the source of sapphires,
And it contains gold dust.
That path no bird knows,
Nor has the falcon’s eye seen it.
The proud lions have not trodden it,
Nor has the fierce lion passed over it.
He puts his hand on the flint;
He overturns the mountains at the roots.
He cuts out channels in the rocks,
And his eye sees every precious thing.
He dams up the streams from trickling;
What is hidden he brings forth to light.
But where can wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?"
Well, since I can't hunt dinosaurs or elephants, I've been birding. Been keeping a journal of what I've seen and heard while bird watching. Have also been entering sightings into ebird.org. I want to get outside more, enjoy the fresh air, and watch for these curious little creatures. Went to Shikellamy State Park last weekend to sit, observe, and enjoy. Didn't see many birds, but the overlook was beautiful. Also ordered a safari jacket to wear - and it's not white, hehe. Because as I learned, "good birders don't wear white" - or, good birders learn to blend in, disappear.
After all that, Tembo's words faintly echo in the back of my mind: "I believe I've spent enough time in the company of death."