The bush in Zimbabwe has come back to life and is breathing again. Our greatest wish has come true: rain, rain and more rain. Wet, soggy, dripping, green and alive.
Rivers have started moving, pools swelling, water running over rocks, gurgling and bubbling, music to our ears.
Granite kopjes have silver streams of water trickling down their slopes; thick green moss carpets the edges of trees and rocks; ferns are emerging everywhere, pale green delicate fronds and dark green clumps under trees and in between rocks.
Every footstep in the bush brings delight and reunion, a cause to stop, look and be amazed that from burnt, baked, solid ground such beauty and diversity can emerge after just a couple of weeks of wet.
Walking on sandy, washed tracks and paths it is mushroom heaven out here. From tiny little bright orange spikes in a line under a tree to big shiny caramel, olive and yellow caps. ‘Deadly death caps’ the books describe the Panther Caps, but oh how beautiful they are. Green Shaggy Ink Caps in the thick grass and dense clusters of Orange Tufts sprouting out of dead wood. Shaggy headed umbrella caps, white, yellow and orange tops. Bright yellow gills underneath thick, fleshy mushrooms known as Stinkers. Crimson Fly Agarics covered in white spots and everywhere the most magnificent bright orange bracket fungi on fallen logs and branches.
A loud snort of alarm rings out in the quiet, damp bush.
Then the movement shows you where to look: a flicking black tail, a shaking head, another snort and then you see the small herd of wildebeest. There’s a baby among the black shiny beasts, light brown with black rings around its eyes and a dark semicircle on its forehead. Before you have a chance to even focus your eyes, a protective mother or aunt moves in front of the youngster, deliberately screening it from your view, from danger.
Further on, there’s a herd of impala with half a dozen new babies among them. Long-legged, alert and curious the foals play and cavort, stand atop anthills, run and chase, watched by anxious, tired mothers.
Down in the vleis (wetlands) the grass is dense and lush already, marshy and squelching underfoot, leaving shoes wet, while lots of bitey, stingy invisible insects leave red, itchy welts on soft skin.
And there, in the grass, an exquisite little butterfly lobelia nods in the breeze, bright blue, purple and yellow, so small and delicate but such a delight.
So many of us cannot be with our families this Christmas and for the millions who cannot come home this year, thanks for walking with me today in our beautiful, bountiful, precious Zimbabwe.
Cathy Buckle is a Zimbabwean writer and blogger living in Marondera, Zimbabwe.
Copyright © Cathy Buckle