Sunday, August 31, 2008

cloud shapes in the wind

So I drove down to the field yesterday, and halfway down I started worrying about the car. I had to aim about 45 degrees left all the way and I was convined that I would have to stop along tehe way and get the wheel alignment sorted out. When I stopped at Machadodorp for lunch and got out the car, I relised that it had nothing to do with the car, but rather the gale-force winds! I had to stagger in to the bathroom and then fight the wind behind me all the waay back. I had been frying in the car, as the sun was pretty hot, but it was even worse outside as the wind was also very warm. I managed to get the last paddle-pop in the star shop (seriously, people have to start stocking more purple and yellow paddle-pops!) and went on my way.

I was running seriously late, after going out with Lara and crew the night before and only really paking in the morning. Typically I can pack for a trip in about 2 minutes, but as I'm in it for the long haul (at least 2 months) I took a bit longer, partly because I as trying to find extra bags for al the little things that I kept adding in. Here's some advice for anyone going on fieldwork; take a few things that will keep you sane, even if they are totally impractical. I have a white jersey, among other things, because when I get back from a day in the field, hot, dusty, usually bruised and bleeding and often with glue in my hair - the idea that I could (if I wanted to) get showered and change into something clean and pristinely white - it really makes a difference. The chances of my wearing it on this trip are practically nil, but at least I know that it's there, and as such it plays much more of a role than many of the things that I use relatively often.

I got to the shopping centre at around 3:30 and took my time doing the first big grocery shop. the sense of deja-vu-but-not wasn't as strong as before, possibly because I was expecting it, but probably because I was tired and hot. I got to the house before it got dark, unpacked and collapsed into bed by about 7 or so, where I picked up the book I was reading last time and tried to figure out where I left off. It didn't grab my attention enough for me to start all over again. The kudu were in the garden again, like a milk-moustached welcoming committee that ran away as soon as I walked anywhere near them. I wonder how the baby is doing, I'm sure he was there but he's grown too much for me to ecognise him!

thi morning was windy gain, although not as bad as yesterday, so I headed off to an outcrop that I know to have a few sheltered areas. I caught two lizards before I packed up - the lizards werent super-active and the wind was picking up so that the traps were starting to strain at their press-stick a bit. The coolest part was when I sat watching some of the traps and a female stuck her head out of a crevice right next to my. She freaked and ran back in, but then stuk her head out again, watching me. I didn't move and she kept going in and out, until she ran out, probably only 5cm from my knee, rushed about 2m to where was traps were, grabbed a mantid and then ranced back nto the crevice. I felt very Attenboroughesque being right next to the action like that!

Once I got back the wind was really picking up, and I rushed inside with all my equipment to spin my blood samples down. An hour later I coouldn't see even the nearest trees from the window. There was so much dust from the wnd that it looked foggy. the house, despite not having a single level patch of floor, is really solid, and I felt safe, while I watched tree branches floating past the windows. At one stage wen it calmed a bit I walked around outside, where I felt the same kind of exhilaration that I usually get from walking in the rin, except that instead of having to towel off when I came inside, I had to put in eyedrops and brush the sand and twigs out of my hair.

And house after that I sat inside trying to figure out what the shapes flying past the window were. It was kind of like pictures in the clouds, except that there were actual possibilities that I was right! At one stage I could have sworn I saw a branch go past wth a surprised vervet monkey attached, another time I thought I saw the purple-crested lourie that I see on our roof sometimes.

Other than that I took a nap, did some work and have been fighting the internet ever since. It's good to be back!


Kath Lockett said...

Great descriptions - keep this coming because it gives us some idea as to what life is like for you out in the field.