Taken captive by birds, by Marguerite Poland
The introduction to Marguerite Poland's starts with a Zulu saying, 'Ngithunjwe izinyom' - I have been taken captive by birds. It indicates that the work of keeping seed-eaters from the ripening crops leaves no time for anything else. The author introduces us to other, surprising meanings als well.
The first time I recall a dikkop's nest was at our neighbours, the Morelands. Coming round the curve of the drive towards the old thatched-roofed farmhouse late one afternoon, I was suddenly aware of the swift flash of an eye, the deeply streaked brown body of a large ground bird standing still and erect on its yellow legs, emerging suddenly from its surroundings - a trick of light, of optics - and re-submerging just as swiftly into the camouflage of undergrowth. There - not one, but two - under the Pride of Madeira where the leaves fell thick and the mower never went. I saw dikkops on your lawn,' I said, pointing. 'Yes,' said Tom Moreland, coming to greet us. 'They have a nest there. They have used that spot for years. Got to watch out for the eggs. Damned dogs used to get them.' The damned dogs were too old now to care. They were fat Scotties - rather bristly and smelly with boot-button black eyes and burrs clogged on the thick dark kilts of their underbellies. They were not fond of children. I did not know the little ambiguities of life when I was nine. How could I? The dikkop's tenuous existence: feigning death, lying prone, standing still almost to the point of capture; afraid of dogs, the mower, the gardener, the careless passersby, the boomslang in the Pride of Madeira, the meercat in the grass. Just hoping to exist. What makes a man a hero in a child's eyes? Tom was a hero to me. It was nothing that he did or said, nothing that he presently was. He was simply a landowner on a small, inherited property, making the best of it with dairy and vegetables. But there was such an air of old-world gallantry and glamour, it was as if his Royal Flying Corps wings were still pinned to his chest, as if he was still flying the endless upturned lakes of blue above the vast plains of German East Africa in 1916 or blazing away above the battlefields of France. They say a pilot's life expectancy in the Great War was only eleven days - and he could have been no more than twenty at the time. There was something of the camaraderie of the Mess in the way he spoke to Jumbie despite the different wars in which they'd served, a generation apart. And no, they never talked about the War or anything more particular than the state of the Bedford truck or the incompetence of the farm workers - paternalistic as District Commissioners amongst the troublesome tribesmen! And yet, in the ease of movement, the loose-limbed alertness, even as an old man with liver spots all up his wiry arms, there was a sense of treasure troves of knowledge and experience about Tom: of daring, grit; of desert storms and Channel winds; of battles and 'kills' and moments which were never ever mentioned. An aura, like a battle hymn. Perhaps I simply imagined this for I'd once heard Jumbie say to Hopie, 'Got more gongs than a general and damned good show too!' And yet there was nothing military or distant about Tom. I can remember his laugh, the way he pulled his shoulders up and shook in silent, generous mirth, his kindliness to children, his deference to Nora, his wife, his courtliness to Hopie. Tea was served in summer on the veranda. [...]
This is an excerpt from the book Taken captive by birds, by Marguerite Poland.
Title: Taken captive by birds
Author: Marguerite Poland, Craig Ivor van Vuuren
Genre: Ornitology, Art
Publisher: The Penguin Group (South Africa)
Cape Town, South Africa 2012
ISBN 9780143530442 / ISBN 978-0-14-353044-2
Hardcover, 19 x 23 cm, 143 pages, throughout illustrations
Poland, Marguerite im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Taken Captive by Birds is a collection of Marguerite Poland’s discovery of birds in young years and the role they have played in her life.
The Keeper is the story of two generations of duty obsessed lighthouse keepers spending their lives in frightening isolation.
Boys at a colonial school in South Africa just before the onset of World War I are governed by unstated commandments: silence, denial and not failing at football.
'Shades' is a novel of huge integrity that represents a valuable contribution to a new direction in contemporary South African literature.
The aim of "The abundant herds - A celebration of the Nguni cattle of the Zulu people" is to record a part of this unique South African heritage for posterity.