The Harping Hippo

It’s winter in the bush. The nights and mornings are fresh – perfect for ‘kuiering’ around a fire under the stars and snuggling up. The sunny days are perfection. I love this time of the year:-).

A mournful cry tugs at the edges of my deep sleep, as I snuggle up closer to Peter and try to ignore the noise. It comes again. Loud. Insistent. Plaintive… an expression of dissatisfaction, or perhaps frustration. I’m awake now.

The night has been filled with other night sounds that I have come to love too. The Hyena’s ‘jhooop’ that rises and ends in an abrupt crescendo. The lullaby of the lion – deep and authoritative. These are the sounds of home. The sounds that lull me into a deep gratitude that I am safely in the place of my heart.

But not this disgruntled outburst, uttered by a hippo in the river just 300 m away. The complaining increases in volume and ferocity that is fast approaching the proportions of a public riot. I sigh as I tuck the edges of the duvet in around my cold ears – does he not know how privileged he is to be living right in Kruger Park, I wonder?

Doesn’t he count it a blessing that the calls of the lions and hyenas are not a real threat to him? Apparently not. Morning comes, and his happy song returns – a contented deep ‘mhu, mhu, mhu’ preceded by a short, slightly hysterical whinny. It always makes me smile.

The hippo has been very moany since that first outburst last week. Always in the dark of the night, or pre-dawn. It has become normal now, but I’ve given it some thought, and you know what? I can identify! In the storms of my life, my problems have always been at their biggest at night! They loom large in the silence of the night and the darkness makes them seem so much more menacing. Then, mercifully, morning comes, bringing with it hope and clarity – relief. It’s enough to make anyone utter a hysterical little giggle and a deep ‘mhu’!

If you feel like the hippo today, it’s okay to say so. It’s okay to cry out – your pleas will not go unheard. But know this: though you may hear the lions and the hyenas in the distance, it does not mean they are an immediate threat, even though the night would have you believe they are hungrily circling you. And morning? Morning is already on its way…

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