This is a reprint of the March 2021 Newsletter – to get the news before anyone else, make sure to sign up for my newsletter!
As always, a sincere thank you for coming to spend a little time on my camo-colored jeep so we can go on a mini- adventure together. In this world, I strive to unleash an Untamed experience, or share something Unexpected or ponder something that might become Unforgettable to you. You see, I live in hope and optimism. It keeps me going.
March is on its way out, but before it slips away, look out for your gifts folklore promises March will deliver. In the beginning or in the end, March its gifts will send!
March is said to come in with adders’ heads and go out with peacock tails…you have but a few days to show off those vivid emeralds, deep purples and tantalizing turquoises, before April descends.
And speaking of peacock feathers…
…I have a confession.
In spite of my bold new brand, I am a city girl. New York City is my Disney Land.
OH, YES! I love animals of all kinds. I grew up with zoo animals in our 3rd floor apartment. My soft-hearted brother, training as a zoo keeper, took pity on various species in jeopardy, all of which found refuge in our three-bedroom flat. Three leopard cubs whose momma had rabies were nursed by my brother and mother until they could eat solids; a mischievous monkey, bullied by his peers needed time to recover; and a delusional guinea fowl who thought he could fly like an eagle came to temper his love of heights. Throughout my young life and into my twenties, I kept pet white rats as wonderful, intelligent companions.
But, in my youth, if I had a choice of going on a safari in the wilds or going to the beach during the wild, high season in Durban, the latter always won.
A city girl through and through, I take after my mother who was never seen without her lipstick, even at bedtime. She informed me without sympathy at a very young age, that natural beauty wasn’t a quality one could rely on, so I had better make an effort to make the most of myself. Iris – my mom, not my protagonist in War Serenade though they are pretty similar – was always “opgetakel.” (A wonderful Afrikaans word for ‘dressed up to the nines.’) To Iris, there was no such thing as being overdressed.
Like mother, like daughter. When I’m prinked, I’m comfortable.
Get the feel for what’s to come: https://www.suninternational.com/sun-city/activities/safari/pilanesberg-national-park/
Sun City is a gorgeous South African destination with a concert arena, a water park, wonderful restaurants and a casino, built on the fringe of the Pilanesberg National Park which is teeming with wild animals. My Besties arranged for us to spend seven glorious nights in Sun City a few years ago.
One night, our plan was to do a sundown safari before dinner.
I heard “dinner” over “safari”, and OBVIOUSLY, a girl must dress up if she is going out to dinner. That we were going on a bush adventure first, made no difference to my choice of wardrobe.
I bounced out of the bathroom, ready for our evening and my Besties collapsed in mirth. “We’re going on a safari” they cried in unison between guffaws. “So? A black outfit, go-to-hell scarf, and high-heeled, knee-high boots can swing both ways,” I assured them. After fifty years of friendship, they just shook their heads in here-she-goes-again resignation. My ever-present silver bangles jangled and my bling earrings jingled as I threw my “Shiatsu” or Boho-fringed-bag across my body. I was ready to rock ‘n roll on that safari jeep.
I confess I caught the polite Xhosa driver-guide, and other “sensibly-dressed,” already-seated safari goers looking at me askance, but hey, I’m used to it. If a girl’s going to take a risk, she’d better be prepared for the consequences.
Shades of the naughty school days we shared, Kitty and I made a B-line for the back seat of the 60-person open jeep, while the less-naughty and more safari-seasoned Lanie, sat a good few rows in front of us.
It’s drinking and hunting time in the bush at sundown, and game was abundant that early evening. We were in awe. Our guide cut the jeep’s engine to eliminate man’s noise which deepened our collective connection to the animals around us.
Without warning, an enormous, already excessively annoyed elephant, pounded out of the dense bush and onto our dusty bush road.
The massive 13 feet tall, 13,000-pound bull turned, saw us, and came to a dead stop in the middle of the road and glared at us furiously.
There was a collective intake of breath from the jeep. Seeing an elephant this close, was a rare and dangerous privilege and predicament. Not a sound emitted from the jeep as the grey beast swung his head and shoulders from side to side, flapped his giant ears shaped just like Africa, and trumpeted loud enough to be heard in Sin City, Las Vegas.
And then he strode toward the back of the jeep, each weighted footfall shaking the earth and wobbling our solid metal vehicle. He was coming toward Kitty and me fast and furiously. I objectively considered each of his ivory tusks must weigh 175 pounds-a-piece before his eyes were close enough to feel their blazing fury.
Kitty broke our fear-induced inertia and dived under the seat in front bracing for impact. And though I don’t remember any of it, Lanie will tell you, besides that bull elephant’s furious trumpeting, the only other sounds were the loud clip-clop, clip-clop of fast-moving heels hammering down the jeep’s metal floor and unsynchronized, fast-moving bracelets as accompaniment. She says the passengers witnessed a black streak followed by a wake that looked suspiciously like an Aerosmith-type scarf boer-boering away from the annoyed elephant from back to front at a helluva lick and stopping just short of climbing on the driver’s lap.
The elephant stopped a smidgeon before he bashed into the back of our jeep. His agile trunk sniffed and prodded the very-recently vacated back seat, narrowly missing Kitty who’d turned into the size of a lady bug and was squashed under the second row of seats, playing dead.
Our wise guide started the truck and ever-so-slowly inched forward and away from the pissed-off pachyderm. Once a safe distance away, our experienced-one announced the angry male was an elephant-hair away from turning over our 60-seater without much effort at all.
Lanie took much pleasure in relaying later over stiff drinks, that the bull elephant was searching for the shiny thing that had made him more furious than he already was. His only mission was to stop the colorful bling-thing blinding him in the setting sun and silencing the un-orchestrated jingling that teased him to distraction. With his poor eyesight, he only saw a shining, waving, flitting thing perched high on the back of the noisy metal creature that roamed in the open, on round legs. He had to kill the shiny thing to stop its taunting when he was already so pissed off.
Needless to say, I was blamed for death touching the shoulders of three scores of safari goers in a camo jeep! Not my finest hour, but at least it’s given my besties years of silly-safari-storytelling. I’m tough. I can take it.
If you’d like to learn more facts about that magnificent creature, the elephant, you can do so here!
I have two collections of books you’ll want to take a look at if you’re looking for something new and exciting to read. All of these books are genuine blasts from the past!
ZEBRA, my soon-to-be-published novel is hardly unexpected. I’ve been working on this one for three years. He now rests in the very qualified hands of my editor, Chris Kridler, who will whip him into shape for publication.
Based on my husband, Athol’s life experiences and peppered with my imagination, ZEBRA is not a story about politics. I abhor politics. But ironically there would be no story if the book wasn’t set in the political inferno that was the apartheid era in South Africa.
Simply told, ZEBRA tells of the bond between unlikely friends that spans forty years. It demonstrates the power of friendship in spite of society’s attempts to wrench them apart; life’s challenges and human misunderstandings, and a merciless war that pits one against the other: Freedom fighter versus army soldier. Ironically, each is there only because of what they learned from the other.
To celebrate ZEBRA’s upcoming birth, I want to give away two zebra bookmarks, gorgeously designed by Sandra Springs of AGiftofLove29 on Etsy from her ZEBRA Collection.
First two readers who email me the CORRECT COLLECTIVE NOUN FOR A HERD OF ZEBRA to firstname.lastname@example.org will win one of these little treasures—a stunning bookmark!
I don’t mean to be presumptuous having an excerpt of ZEBRA under this category. But I am one who lives in hope. :o) In this instance, it’s hope that something in one of my books triggers a little flint that ignites a spark that in some small way resonates and becomes something you’ll remember long after The End.
See? I DO live in hope. ;o)
A fellow writer thought the following book quote “tweetable.” So, here is an excerpt from ZEBRA. Papin, the Zulu teenager teaches Jock, his younger white friend, how to navigate the wilds of the Drakensberg mountains. The wise Zulu words really foreshadow what Jock must use for his survival in later life.
“If you run away from an animal, it will think it has the upper hand. Watch animals and you will learn so much. See how the duiker jumps high when he’s happy? How the baboon picks nits out of the fur of those he wants to impress? You, my friend, must always show the face you want others to see. Because it’s on that face or by that action, they will judge you. If they don’t know what’s in your head, they can’t figure out what to expect from you. That’s what separates you from the duiker and the baboon. What they can’t see is your weapon for which they will have no prepared defense.”
And should this quote fail to resonate with you, don’t worry at all. We’ll just blame my lovely Kerry. :o)
Until Next We Meet…
Thank you for spending time with me on my safari. I’d love you to join my Facebook Readers Group, Club Untamed, for all sorts of fun stuff.
My girlchild had a huge bag of Chappies Bubble Gum delivered to me last week. A rare commodity here in the U.S. She likely had to mortgage her family home for her mammoth gum-gift to me. But boy, was I delighted to see a South African Double Delight from my youth. You see, while you chew the fruity flavor, you can brush up on your general knowledge with the DID YOU KNOW? question and answer on the inside of the wrapper. Savor and learn. Watch out for ‘Chappies Did You Know’ nuggets in April on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
And pop in anytime to peruse my website, www.jillwallace.com. You’ll find another chance there to win-win-win!
Until our next safari and before March marches off, may she present you with a divine parting gift.