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That one time, at the vulture pit…

Them vultures are coming for ya...
Don't be fooled. Those Cape Vultures are huge. Ginormous. They're gonna getcha...

I’ve been told that meditation will help me with various issues… Sleeplessness, relentless earworms, generalized chaos in the filing system that is my head, imagining that the rainspider hiding in my orchid is out to get me…

I now know that everybody encouraging me to meditate is actually trying to kill me.

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you. I should have seen it coming.

Cemetary angel in the Golden Gate park
Imagine being buried here...

So there I was, hauling ass up a really steep rocky incline in the Golden Gate nature reserve in the rolling country known as the Free State. (It’s not flat, I’m telling you!) Mission? Reaching the hallowed ground of a vulture feeding station. Vision? Cornering us a few Cape Vultures – and perhaps, if we’re lucky, some Bearded Vultures too. (Or as the French agricultural students quite charmingly put it in French accents that put my own to shame: Ze Gypaetus Barbatus!)

It’s bitterly cold. The type of cold that makes you head to your nearest Cape Union Mart and spend the equivalent of a year’s supply of shoes on a really ugly but very effective windbreaker-type ski jacket. I looked a bit like a version of the Michelin Man, but hey – at least I could still feel my lungs.

Cape vulture in flight
Another look...

It was also painfully beautiful. A stark, icy day filled to brimming with the bluest sky and absolute silence.

We reached the top with minimal brainfreeze and oxygen, startled a jackal and stood gawking at some seriously grumpy Cape Vultures picking between some grotty bones. They stared at us, then took flight… Only to circle around so low that I was pretty sure they were scouting for weak points and singling out the slow animals. Then they started winging their way to wherever huge birds with epic wingspans retire to rest…

Sighs of happiness all around, we scattered to take photos, lie down and stare at the sky, and just be for a bit. Almost by accident, I found myself assuming a cross-legged position at the top of the ridge. I’m guessing it could pass for Lotus and is probably quite suited to meditating.

And I just stared… At the sky, at some

Golden Gate visage
Tiny specks...

tiny birds hopping between the bones, at the plumes of grass imitating rippling satin sheets (cheese alert!). And then I closed my eyes, and listened. To the last remnants of a waterfall to my right. At said wind through grass. At the click-click sounds of a camera shutter. At nothing.

And then… I fell asleep. Which is quite an incredible thing for me to do – especially while sitting in an upright position. And I’m guessing that it would have been the most restful sleep I’ve had in a while, but for one thing – my head doing that sudden sleepy-jerking thing forward so hard that I pretty much overbalanced and nearly went gat-oor-kop down into the vulture patch.

Golden Gate panorama
Snow on the mountains...

So much for meditating. Heart hammering and cheeks flushing, I looked around frantically to see who’d noticed. No-one, luckily. But of course, now I’ve written about it.

So I’m guessing that finding my Zen, tapping into a calm place and truly switching off is actually a life-threatening endeavor for me. Nervous energy’s never had me tumble down a cliff yet, after all.

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Published inPersonal ramblings

One Comment

  1. Alishia Alishia

    Hey Donnay,

    The pics are amazing. Looks worth the torture off as you put it “HAULING ASS” You crack me up.

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