A short section from my book….

Just to remind you where I am and that I am watching your activity on your blogs. Can’t always comment but I do cheat a little and spy on you all when I get bored with editing this book, specially when Linda is not looking. Oh dear she will get a notice of this post so I’m in trouble already…. I’m adding just a short bit from what is in the book, can’t even remember if I’ve edited this bit… enjoy…

My Nature Lessons Begin.

It was not long after our arrival in West Nicholson, before Dad was fully accepted into the community and invites to go shooting or fishing on the farms in the district were pouring in. Dad enjoyed both and as long as I can remember back in life, the house was never short of biltong and most weekend’s fish was on the menu. Maybe that’s why I’m not keen on fish today.

One of Dad’s first fishing trips on which I accompanied him, we were caught in an absolute down pour, and it rained the proverbial cats and dogs. We got soaked and found refuge in the old Bedford truck he drove. On the way home, slipping and sliding on very muddy roads and way after dark, we had waited for the rain to abate, we collected our first “pets” of many. In the road Dad picked up the eyes of two Nag Apies, or Bush Babies (galago) as they are probably better known. He stopped and discovered these were babies that had probably been washed out of the trees and now abandoned by their parents.

image

They were promptly placed in his breast pocket for warmth and to dry off, much to my disappointment, but Dad understood the ways of the wild and I still had it all to learn. From there on, all the way home, my lesson began, how to look after the young, to study the habits of the little creatures, what they eat, how their parents would raise them and all the nuances of nature, with him and Mom, I was to become a parent.

Arriving home these two little “pets” probably slightly bigger than a golf ball, are handed over to Mom who now became their mother. I spent all my time watching how she dried them, fed them a milk and meat mixture with a dolls baby bottle and generally looked after them as though she was a Nag Apie. Where did she gain all this knowledge? I was flabbergasted by the knowledge of both my parents and that is when my life, deeply influenced in nature, began.

I had to learn not to pick them up, like all small children I wanted to cuddle them, crush them as though they were toys. Dad started to teach me all that I needed to know. They were fed on their milk mixture, and I had to run around in the grass catching grass hoppers, which apparently their parents did to feed them, a chewed mush whilst still young. Fortunately I was not asked to chew the creeps I caught, but was allowed to mash them with a fork.

Dad was not a great communicator, most of my errors were rewarded with a harsh word and even sometimes a soft clip to reboot my head to the lessons taught. But while at home I spent long nights watching and learning about these two apes. It was Dad’s intention to return them to the wild, when they got big enough to catch and feed themselves, so very little interaction with us was allowed. They spent their days curled up in a little box hung from the ceiling, as they sleep during the day and come out at night.

We lived in a house that, on three sides, was enclosed with gauze wiring to keep out the mosquitos and other night time visitors. Somehow these same managed to get inside and onto the veranda where “Pookie one” and “Pookie two” spent their lives. This was no small house and the length of the veranda surrounding the house measured forty five odd metres long and four metres wide. This was bigger than most zoo cages for Lion in those days. So these two apes that got no bigger than eight inches in length, maybe twelve inches, with the tail being almost half of that length, had a proverbial playground bigger than the area they establish as a territory in the wild.

When not at boarding school but rather at home, I would wait for my parents to sleep and I’d sneak out to watch these little apes. It was not long and they were climbing all over me, interacting as though I was a parent, as I would aid with the catching of insects and food for them. Definitely not allowed by Dad, which I should imagine would have resulted in the clip behind the head to knock the lesson in, but he never found out, till almost a year later.

A Nag Apie has a remarkable jumping ability. The highest reliably reported jump is 2.25 m. According to a study published by the Royal Society, given the body mass of each animal and the fact that the leg muscles amount to about 25% of this, Nag Apies jumping muscles should perform six to nine times better than that of a frog. This is thought to be due to the energy storage in the tendons of the lower leg, allowing far greater jumps than would otherwise be possible for an animal of their size. In mid-flight, they tuck their arms and legs close to the body; they are then brought out at the last second to grab the landing spot. In a series of leaps, these little apes can cover ten yards in mere seconds. The tail, which is longer than the length of the head and body combined, assists the powerful leg muscles in powering the jumps. They may also hop like a kangaroo or simply run/walk on four legs.

But, to aid with their grip on their target they wet their feet with urine. This is known as urine marking as well, due to the fact where they land they leave their scent, warning off intruders from their territory. Naturally females then in oestrus are at the same time broadcasting their readiness to breed.

The time came after about a year when Dad felt these two were doing well enough to return to the wild. A night was chosen and they’re placed in a box for transported to the wilds. Me in tow to learn the lesson of how to free these captive raised Bush Babies. I was heartbroken, I pleaded and cried my eyes out, but to no avail, they were to return to the wild, or so Dad thought.

An area was selected, and we had first to search with torches to ensure we were not releasing these two in the territory of another. No eyes seen, no sign of Bush Babies, it was time to release them. Dad opened the box, they took one look around and headed straight over to me and sat on my shoulder, hanging on for dear life. This was totally new to them and they decided big brother was there to aid. This totally confused Dad till I owned up, after a bit of persuasion, as to playing with them at night. Yes the proverbial clip was administered, but I noticed it had no sting to it, “We’ll have to keep them now!” was all he said as we climbed back into the van. I’m sure he was as pleased as I was, but he would never admit that.

These two spent their whole long lives, on our veranda, teaching me so many lessons, that no teacher at any school could have hope to get into my head. I would sit for hours and merely watch, their interaction, expressions and their communication which became a language I could easily interpret.

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76 thoughts on “A short section from my book….

  1. Fascinating tale, Bulldog. Just a tip, though: there are a lot of very long sentences in there. Try to break them up and vary the cadence between short and long sentences. It helps to keep the reader’s interest. Complex sentence structure tends to befuddle many readers!

    Memoirs are usually held together by one or two themes (rather than fiction being driven by a plot and sub-plots). Have you thought about your themes?

    Go to this site. It lists the common themes in all of literature (especially memoirs). I found it so helpful in organizing my memoir… http://www.dariengee.com/memoir-themes/

    Have fun writing! 🙂

    • Growing up/ Nature is the theme.. I have a Editor that is progressing through the book just behind my editing… she is doing a marvelous job, it is now reads like a book… My English is bad and she is teaching me so much as we go along… she is really good and the sentence length is one of the things she picked up and is changing… as well as all the other million odd faults…

  2. What an endearing story about your childhood Bulldog. With your lovely photos woven in as well, it is going to be an amazing read. I am anxiously awaiting more. 🙂

      • I am sure it is going to be a wonderful read Bullldog. Believe it or not, the editing is something I love doing. I’m kinda strange that way. ;). Take care!

  3. Can I see a larger image of bush babies? Rob, I am glad to hear that you can manage fine using one eye to take pics, but is writing a bit too strenuous for you now? I wish you could have that op asap…. I know I would not want to wait. Now, to your story – I enjoy your writing, and I know it is a must for you, but please do take care….

    • Thank you Paula.. I will do a post on bush babies sometime and you will get to see bigger pictures… my eyes will have to wait and do take a bit of strain with the writing but I need to get this hump off my back…

    • The one is back to normal with a slight cataract, the double vision remains in the other as well as requiring a cataract op… I only need one eye for photos so the op can wait till a more opportune time… but thanks for asking Maralee most kind of you…

  4. I enjoyed reading this passage and look forward to more. What attracts me to your book especially is the combination of personal stories and photos. I put money on it being an interesting read.

  5. Bush babies are just so adorable and I don’t blame you for interacting with them Rob. I would have done the same. Well written my friend and wishing you all of the best with your book. 😀

  6. Well….I love it! I could see them and the bush and you and the porch and the clip on the head…all of it…and that’s what you’re going for after all…well done!!!

  7. This is absolutely fantastic and as wonderful as I imagined your stories would be. I can’t wait to read more!

    The editor came out in me while reading this so please forgive me for making a few suggestions (I know it hasn’t been to the ‘official’ editor yet) 😉

    * First sentence ‘invited’ (instead of invites)
    * A night was chosen and they’re placed in a box for transportation (instead of transported) to the wilds

    Brilliant – what an amazing life 😀

    • Thank you for each and every tip you pass my way… Anneli did a full edit of this for me and I’m ecstatic with the result… it shows me that with a good editor I think the book might just go down well… I love your books that I have read and respect all your input… but let me assure you I won’t be putting this out on my edit… I’m an idiot when it comes to English, a mathematician? yes, but not a linguist…
      I’m just very encouraged about the comments I seem to have a good story to tell and this encourages me to continue when I so want to give up… thanks so much…

  8. A ;lovely lead-in to the love of nature and creatures. Enthralling.
    I happened to spot:
    “weekends” (not a possessive) but “doll’s baby bottle” – or “baby doll’s bottle” (is one)
    “grasshoppers” and ‘downpour”. but “night-time”

    • Thanks Col… Anneli took this post and did an edit for me as a present… It has enlightened me to how bad my English is… but then I’m a mathematician and will definitely be using an editor to help me out… I shared this to see if there’s a reaction, which there is and that gives me the encouragement I’m surely lacking, people seem to enjoy what I have to share and with a good editor I think it will convert to a lovely book to read… but thank you for your input…

      • Your English is fine. No crit intended. Those sorts of things crop up with multi-degreed people (I should know; I edit them) and one finds that there are some things that escape the most eagle of eyes. I constantly spot errors in published books of top-name authors with mainstream publishers. (I have just seen some in JK Rowlings’s latest,)

    • Thank you… this is the one thing I’ve always said to my children, if I could just give them 10% of the good times and privileges I was bestowed with I’d be happy…
      I was extremely happy as a kid with the experiences I was given from dad… he was not the easiest of men, but when he got into the bush he became the hero I sought …

  9. Fascinating read Bulldog! We always had a menagerie of pets when my children where younger but nothing like the ones you had!!! I’m so excited to see your book taking shape in this way and what incredible experiences you have to share. I can’t wait to read more 🙂 Now you are inspiring me to keep going with my book…still a long way to go though…

    • All I can say from the reaction I have received from those that have read this piece, I now edit with an inspired enthusiasm. .. I do recommend you continue with your book I cannot say how much fun this has been, it has taken a while and I’ve hit the wall a few times with total blocks and writing that could have been done better by a monkey, but now as I edit I get excited, and find all the comments so invigorating and encouraging… Sherri thank you for this lovely comment and good luck with your writing…

      • Wonderful to feel so invigorated like this Bulldog. When I wrote my post about not giving up on my writing dream I was battling hard with keeping going. Then I got enthused but other things got in the way. So now I’m getting back into the swing of things once again…slowly! Thanks so much Bulldog, and the same to you, wishing you every success 🙂

  10. What a great story – I love it! Were your parents employed at a zoo or what was their profession? No wonder you have such a love and knowledge of animals! When will your book be done?

    • No my Dad was a Motor Mechanic that ran a garage in the outback of Rhodesia, where the bush was just all around, a small town where he taught me so much, aided by a very good friend Zazeba who worked for him but would be given permission to walk the bush with me…
      I still have quite a bit to edit almost half way through then it is going to a friend (an expert English writer) who will edit the book for me, then we will start with the self publication thing I still have to learn a bit about…
      The book is all about my bush and animal experiences gained over a good many years, most with a bit of humour in it, like when I raised Ostriches on contract for a mine on their small game reserve.. being chased by elephant and just so many more experiences I’ve had…

  11. Bulldog, your writing is amazing. I am even more excited about your book now!! I cannot wait to read this clip to the children today. If you do anymore, though, I think I will save it for us to all sit around and read in the evenings after supper. This will just whet their appetites for Mr. Bulldog’s Adventures!! I am so proud of you….and excited for you. I loved this story; I am so very glad they came back home with you!! I bet your dad was secretly glad, too. 🙂 Thank you for giving us a glimpse!

    • He loved those two as much as I did.. he would never admit to being pleased they came home with us… but they lived their lives out on his veranda and used to play all over him when he sat reading his news paper… I even remember them trying out his whiskey and not liking it… I am over joyed that you enjoyed such a small portion of the book that is filled with such stories of my life…

  12. Wow, what an amazing story! You have a way of writing that really draws the reader into the story. I can’t wait to read the whole book :). I have one question though. You said you are busy editing your book right now. Are you also going to have a professional edit done? The reason I ask is because I find that so many books are self published nowadays that they don’t get an in depth edit done, and I find it really bugs me when I’m reading a book and I find spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. There is just no way that we can find all of our own errors. There are a few books that I have read lately that I think could have been bestsellers if they had only had a going over from a professional. I was just curious what your plans are :).

    • Oh most definitely… my English is atrocious, spelling and grammar are by no means my strong point… give me a mathematical problem I’ll solve it for you, but writing no way could I even dream of self editing .. I have a very competent friend from school days that knows a little about me and my life and he and his wife are English Majors who are going to do the final edit for me and say if they think it is worth publishing or not… my kids asked that I wrote down my life story so that they could pass it on to their kids… if we publish it will only be on the editors say it is worth it…
      I so agree with you on the bad editing of some books, even with my bad English I have actually not completed reading a book because of this… I would hate to think someone might do the same to a book I wrote…
      If you saw the state it is in now you would understand why I have to edit it myself first… I just sat and wrote it while memories came to me, now its putting it into some kind of order as well into some kind of language that my mate will understand…

      • What a wonderful gift to pass down to your family, but I sure hope it gets published too because like I said, every time you post a passage I am pulled into its spell, and I just can’t wait to read more :). Editing it yourself first makes total sense, and you are lucky to have your friend to be the second set of eyes. It sounds like you have everything all planned out, and I’m really very excited for you!!

  13. Bulldog, this is awesome! I have to admit, my western upbringing marveled at the idea that someone, during my lifetime grew up so completely differently than I. It brought me back to my childhood when I would read about far away lands…places on the other side of the world. Except this was real life…for you!

    • Thanks Mrs P., my kids have always said I must do this book, if for nothing else but for them to be able to pass on to their children… I have so enjoyed the first draft yet have so far to go to get it ready for a professional editor…

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