between the rains

a mist hangs in the air after a soaking rain across the hills of Vera Plaine

The steaming forest lies momentarily silent as rains pass, pierced occasionally by the raucous cries of turacos reverberating over the forest like echoes from some prehistoric era.

Not much larger than a fingernail, this frog sits motionless on a leaf of Anthocleista vogelii, a small tree usually found in swampy forests.

Frogs, reawakened by fresh waters flooding through their environment, give up the location of swamps and hidden forest pools with a chorus not unlike the tinkling of a hundred little bells.  Woolly-necked storks soar effortlessly in graceful circles over savannas on the forest edge.  A few of the black-bodied, scruffy white-necked birds bob for insects and snails in the tall savanna grasses.  Down the track before us, a buttonquail, no larger than a tennis ball with wings, scrambles along the track with a thumb-sized chick in tow, then springs to flight in a semi-circle around the vehicle to land safely behind us, the chick ducking for cover.

Streams flush from the rains reinvigorate forests as they flow to lagoons.

Towering Ozouga trees are dropping green, walnut-sized fruits from the forest canopy.  They sound like hailstones as the plummet through the forest to pile up below the ancient trees; in some places, piles of fruit-pits so thick it is like walking on marbles.

Like some reptilian leg of pterodactyl, the trunk of an ozouga tree stands perched on twisted, gnarled buttresses spanning some three meters of forest floor.

The smell of yeasty fermentation pervades the understory as the over-abundance of fruits begins to decompose.  Generations of elephants have pulverized trails through the forest litter beneath and between the fruiting trees.  The trails make travel through the forest nearly silent, increasing, with caution, the opportunity for wildlife encounters.  Elephants have obviously been feasting on the bounty, as evidenced by the numerous ozouga fruit-pits spilling out from the piles of elephant dung.


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