This story takes place during the time that Steven and I were dating. I had a three-day layover in Johannesburg and drove all the way to Letaba just to spend two days with him. One heck of a drive for just two days, I know, but we were so in love, I just had to see him…
I arrived at Steven’s house in the middle of the afternoon. There was enough time for me to unwind a little bit after the long drive up. And later that afternoon we went for a sundowner on the Letaba River.
When we got to the bridge, there was a big breeding herd of elephants coming down to drink. I took a few deep breaths to soak up the smell of the bushveld I had missed. Steven put his arm around me and together we watched the elephants drink in the light of the setting sun. I was once again in my happy place. “Welcome home, my love.” Steven said and he winked at me.
There was a tiny baby with the herd. The little one had not yet mastered the skill of using his trunk to drink and he dove into the water face first. It was such a comical sight. I can still watch elephants like that for hours!
We made a nice fire when we got home. While Steven was braaiing for us, I was sipping from a glass of cold white wine and listening to the sounds of the bush. A Scops Owl was calling in the distance and a bit closer I could hear a Fiery-necked Nightjar. Every now and then I could hear typical “whoop whoop” of a hyena over the sound of the sizzling meat on the fire.
We were sound asleep later that night when all of a sudden I heard a loud bang. Now I sleep with earplugs in. It is something that I started doing when I was flying and now I cannot sleep without them… But even with my earplugs in, I could hear it clearly. Still half asleep, I shot straight up and yelled:
“We are under attack!!!”
(I must have been dreaming about the Second World War or something… we watched a few episodes of Band of Brothers before we went to sleep!)
I tried to wake up Steven. I asked him: “Babe, what on earth was that!” But he was fast asleep. Not even a canon will wake up Steven once he is out. Then I had a luminous idea… I whispered in his ear:
“The poachers are coming!!”
Steven shot out of bed like a bolt of lightning. “ What! Where?” He shouted as he was hopping on one leg trying to get his uniform pants on. I never expected thát quick a response and I burst out laughing. The puzzled look on his face was one in a million.
I think Steven quickly realized that he was not on any foot patrol in the middle of the bush – that there were no poachers coming and that he was actually home with me. His confused look quickly turned into a smile and we both had a good laugh at his quick reflexes.
Between the giggles, I told him I only woke him up because I heard a loud bang on the roof. “Oh, that!” He said and smiled. “That is probably just a sausage, babe. Nothing to worry about!” He was right! The next morning I went outside and found an enormous sausage fruit on the roof above the bedroom. It had fallen from the sausage tree (Kigelia africana) that was behind Stevens house!
That specific tree behind the house in Letaba always carries a lot of fruit in season and the sound of the sausages falling on the roof always make us think back to the night the ‘poachers were coming’. So whenever we hear a loud thump on the roof, we just look at each other and say in unison: “Sausage!”