For World Environment Day 2020
Fragments of my Diary
Ode to Nature
“… or taste the solitudes where nature keeps her pure and intricate balance free from the crass destructiveness of man …”
The Flames Trees of Thika
I have read again my hand-written Diaries, their pages already yellowed by time, in these odd days of virtual news reaching us on white screens, and bringing in waves statistics of an epidemic we cannot understand.
I have gone back to another time, when it all seemed so simple.
It has not changed.
Nature remains unchangeable, if we just let her be.
I share with you today these sounds, this light, the breeze on my face.
If we can reconnect with the Earth, all will be healed, all will be well.
“I had a deep sense, almost from infancy, of nature, a feeling of intimate companionship with the trees and the clouds and the touch of season”
I did, too, since I was a child, exploring with my Father, the post second world war Italian countryside.
Between 1989 and 1990 I built, with rocks from the bush, old dry olive tree trunks from the forest, and thatch from the swamp, a place where to go and listen to the silence, rest, and write.
An unusual house, open to suns, winds and moon with no windows nor doors.
It was perched on the cliff overlooking the Springs, on the spot where Paolo’s hut to watch wildlife had once been.
There I spent weeks and months over time.
There I wrote most of my stories.
It is a place sacred to me and to my memories.
They called it “Kuki’s Nest.”
In the Spring of 1991 I went to retreat there alone for over a week, before traveling to Europe and around the world for the launch of my autobiography I Dreamed of Africa.
Here from my diary:
The Nest, 15 April 1991
“Surprised by joy, impatient as the wind.”
I came today -no watch- and I switched off the radio handset.
I shall eat when I am hungry and sleep when I am tired.
I shall let the days go by, and learn from the arc of the sun in the sky that night is close, and has come.
I shall note in these pages my feelings as time progresses, soaking in the great privilege of being totally alone, far from human voices, pressures and noise: I will recharge my thinning energy, which I will need so much in the coming months, when I travel to launch my book, for the interviews, the crowds, the pressure, for the distant world which is waiting somewhere, across the sea.
A great hot silence in the quiet of noon, and scattered clouds, gathering slowly to form a dense canopy, coloured with the hope of rain.
Down a steep twisted path interrupted by barren dusty tracks left by the passage of elephants, massive boulders of granite, palm trees, ponds still amongst rocks, aloe, sanseveria, and huge fig trees hugging the stones with roots as tenacious as claws, the Ol Ari Nyiro springs sprout, -limpid and golden- amongst the papyrus.
The candelabra trees point dramatic fingers of sunset light, like hands begging to the sky.
It is that time of evening when you just hear them, the secret African animals that wake up for the night.
A swish of swallows.
A noise, still far, of tumbling stones, perhaps announces buffalo.
An enormous fish eagle comes to perch on a tree-stump on the stream.
She looks up towards me, white face like a mask, abundant white and black plumage. She moves her neck in intermittent side-jerks: strange creature.
The drumming of hooves is closer now. I see them.
A small herd of dusty buffalo- preceded by rolling sound of rocks knocked by their impatient feet-, trot off to the water.
I watch the slanting rays of sun, reflecting yellow arrows on their dark backs, and glowing copper on the red murram soil.
Every bush is lined by a golden aura.
A deep short trumpeting…a branch cracking.
Suddenly -now- the elephants are here, tall shadows, silently entering the water up to their stomach, drinking deep with stretched trunks, and soon they move away again, unhurried, leaving only the memory of their elegance.
The silence is buzzing with many voices. Infinite birds and insects all sing their glorious songs freely and without constraint, and I try to imagine the creature behind these different voices.
Tonight is full moon, and there will be hyena. Their whooping calls will answer each other with varied pitches from the hills and plains, as they emerge from their dens, dug out next to termite mounds on the glades amongst the acacia trees.
I listen and wait. Birds call. Some sudden chatter, soon to fade.
A quiet noise of running water below.
A movement in the silence of the hills, and the unique stillness of Africa. The stillness of the lion which knows its strength.
I shall be ready to fly, take on all challenges.
The Gallmann Memorial Foundation
From Ol ari Nyiro
Laikipia Nature Conservancy
On the Great Rift Valley of Kenya
5th June 2020
Please help us with the ongoing rebuilding and the maintaining of vital conservation infrastructure on Laikipia Nature Conservancy, while supporting our philanthropic work of education and scholarships, community support, assistance to neighbours, public health, food drought relief, water, road building and maintenance.
And of course continuing to equip the outstanding team of rangers with uniforms, transport, binoculars, infrared cameras and everything they need to continue to protect and monitor the unique Biodiversity of Ol Ari Nyiro, and also support our ongoing re-forestation project to combat global warming by planting more and more indigenous trees.
With your help we can secure Kuki’s vision and legacy in perpetuity.
Please help us by making a donation below, however small or big it may be!!!