In rummaging through a box of books I found one that was on my list.
And that was that !!
First book chosen. Also one of my favourites therefore I was a happy challengee.
As I opened the pages there it was – that smell. I remembered it from my childhood.
The pages smelt of burning sun, baked rocks and sand, brackish waterholes, fresh cool flowing rivers, tawny fur and the blood scent of fresh kills.
I merely meant to glance over the photos, read a long forgotten passage or two…
By chapter 4 it was time to settle in and let the rest of the world go about its business as I roamed alongside George and Joy, and my long beloved Elsa.
With the passing years she has lost none of her charm.
Once more I felt privileged to be part of those first three years of her life. I ran along side her as she chased giraffe, and I held my breath waiting for her to return after disappearing in to the bush in pursuit of another playmate.
It is just as marvelous to me today, as it was decades ago, to experience through Joy Adamson’s words the courage it took from George, Joy and Elsa to take the steps they did to return her to the wild.
What they achieved together changed generations of thinking about the possibilities for wild animals that have become tame.
Because of Elsa many other animals have been given the chance to return to what they were born to – freedom.
They taught her the skills she would have learned from her mother. They taught her to survive. Yet this powerful animal never lost her trust in the Adamsons, even allowing them and Nuru (above…Nuru is slitting the buffalos throat in the Mohammedan way so that he can eat some of the meat) to help her finish the kills.
Did this book read differently for me than the many times before. Surely it must have for I am no longer an innocent seeing the world through fresh eyes.
Still, I remember a feeling from those days that returned with each flip of the pages. Wonder.
Not that either Charlie or Chevvy were impressed as they stretched out beside me on the bed.
When I closed the book on the last page there was a lump in my throat.
Partly because today’s me knows that Elsa died when she was only five years old.
Partly because Elsa spent the last two years of her life living how a lion should.
Her story – like Elsa herself – has lost none of its charm for me. I can still taste the winds as they sweep over the African plains. I hear the lions roar in my bones. I will be forever grateful she existed and Joy Adamson told me her story.
Hire or buy the film…