“It’s just after nine”, said the clock on the wall.
“It’s off we go; tally-ho – hi-ho”, sang Mrs Nutter, to herself, mostly.
“Where to?”, said I, with great patience, humility and forbearance; fearful of the second verse.
“To see the Golden Pipit, of course – don’t be daft!”, finished the ebullient Mrs Nutter.
“The bird in KZN over the hills & hills & hills and very far far away?”, said I with knitted brow; clad in January’s saddest sack when wallets recall (fondly) the ‘gud ol’ days ‘fore Christmas‘.
“Yes, indeed”, warned Mrs Nutter sweetly; intimidation’s wolf in sheep’s bright-eyes & bushy-tail.
“Would you like to come too, Little-boy-of-4?“, asked Mrs Nutter.
“No..”, says he – on the verge of panic, there’s only so much a boy-of-4 can risk.
“Why not?”, she enquired; merciless eyes boring into the hapless whelp…
“You’re a lunatic”, squeaked the Little-boy-of-4; looking for help from me – pitiful, to say the least. Why me? I ignored him.
A big, hairy, monster spider scuttled down the wall – as pretty as a summer peach. [“… you’re on your own, my boy”, I thought, feigning distraction.]
“I – am – not – a – lunatic!” counselled Mrs Nutter, enunciating each syllable clearly to make her point more menacing, if that was at all possible, in our current state of panic. “Life is for the living – waste not: want not, I always say” she harangued. I remained impassive, stood at a safe distance; out of harm’s way.
Mrs Nutter’s lower lip trembled, and her hands began to writhe & wring, like serpents – scary ones. Our hearts sank into our boots or at least as low as where our boots would be if we hadn’t lost our boots the last time Somebody said, “Golden Pipit!”.
The Little-boy-of-4 and I anticipated [Sod’s Law…] – “The storm of the year will strike KZN at exactly 4:30pm (our ETA) & lightning will break trees, rain will drown things and a gale will sweep the land of Golden Pipits [Stay at home!]” – but Mrs Nutter must have her way or our pain & hurt would last for weeks & weeks.
… and so, we left soon after, in the drizzle, at 10am – for ‘sunny’ KZN – some 600 kilometres away; against the returning holiday traffic – at, potentially, great cost to life & limb.
At 10:10am Mrs Nutter said “zzzz” & nodded-off; asleep – the Little-boy-of-4 and I did not, nod-off. The journey was long and hot and far, and we were hungry. Little-boy-of-4 and I were deeply troubled but silent, lest we mix the “zzzz” with “BE QUIET!” – a baleful cocktail of fire & remorse.
At 3:30pm, on the Pongola hills, after endless travel through the valley of the Happy-cows-on-the-Road, the “… storm of the year about to strike KZN [you should have stayed at home!]” was brewing a pot of spitted thunder & lightning.
“We’ll stay here, in Pongola, at the Dive Inn [We don’t do dives, usually – a nice change then]”, pointed out the ever-pragmatic Mrs Nutter, who had, in fact, been sleeping with one-eye-open to “keep an eye on things” in case we legged it home, to safety.
Just then “The storm of the year struck KZN at exactly 4:30pm & lightning broke trees, rain drowned things and a gale swept the land of Golden Pipits” [why, oh why, did you not stay home?].
We took refuge in suite 15’s corner – hail hailed – lightning lightninged & thunder frightened us under the bed. Meanwhile, Mrs Nutter had fetched the playing cards &, stretched out on the double, dealt herself a hand of solitaire to while away the inconvenience.
At 6pm the storm abated but for a drip in spits & spats and we emerged, from under the bed, to a sunset’s rainbow; emotions swinging wildly from “We’re A L I V E!” to “… she’ll want to go birding!”.
… and so, we went birding.
Soon after, whilst out & about in Pongola-town, disturbed by our forward-stop-reverse, some local farmers in cruisers & bruisers bid us ‘STOP!’ & give account, NOW! Mausers, kieries & hairy fat-fists joined-in, looking cross & waiting for an answer nobody liked.
“We’re birding!” jabbed the effervescent Mrs Nutter; clearing the flying mud with some blue air of her own.
Silence descended on the land.
“In this?” asked the bravest of the bravest men. “Why not?” countered Mrs Nutter, fire-red engines spooling [in neutral] for a fight. Sensing a death & cannon-fodder in our world, the would-be-crippled, left – in a bitofa hurry.
Next morning’s 4:30am chime came & went but not before a rousing “GET UP!”, (she said). We transferred body & kit to a sleepy car & turning into the rising sun – under tangerine skies – commenced the short trek to Mkuzi’s www.manyoni.co.za – a Zululand Conservation Trust gem.
At 6:14.4683am, somewhere behind tents 4 & 5 – @ Mavela Lodge – under the hospitable eye of Karen, Theo & the Zebra Hills staff – the sun’s prodigal son beamed a chest of gold, in grasses green. There, at the end of the rainbow, a pot o’ gold – our Golden Pipit!
“Lovely jubbly”, decreed Mrs Nutter to nobody in particular; and bid us drive her home; which we did – gold coin in our pockets.
“Woohoo! We’re rich!” said the Little-boy-of-4. I agreed.
The End [… for now]