February 15, 2016. Mole National Park, Ghana

Even the air seems to be holding it's breath.

We feel soaked in the stillness. 

A low sun struggles to poke through

The hazy hot sky.

In the distance; from lighter to darker,

Are bands of gray and brown foliage.

The occasional tree stands over the rest,

Not only taller, 

These sentinels are green.

In the foreground; brown flatlands

And two large water areas
 edged in bush.

Gradually, we hear whistles and coos.

Very tiny green birds play

On the sides of tree trunks.

Small rusty coloured birds

Pop in and out of tree holes.

A colourful red throated bird might be a parrot.

Fly catchers do figure-eights.

Herons and egrets swoop over the water.

A rustle of foliage
Is caused by playing monkeys.

Some groups of monkeys have small dark faces,

Some carry black babies on their bellies and seem to wear

Red jackets and fuzzy red toupees.

Small spotted African deer and Guinean fowl

Are just dots on the brown flatlands.

A crocodile is a long dark shape

Gliding through the water.

Suddenly, we are surprised to find a deer

Standing right beside us.

Then a large baboon sneaks up

And steals someone's sandwich.

We are not only watching 
But being watched.

The arid heat is just as intense

At 6 AM the next morning.

Now five black elephants

Play and bath in the pond.

Only when the 7 AM walking tour

Gets too close,

Do they give up their frolicking,

And plod in a line up the bank and into the bush.

On their way, they scoop up dirt

And shower it on themselves.

Their glistening black bodies turn brown.

Once the elephants have disappeared,

We again delight in the birds

The African chipmunks, the tiny lizards,

The monkeys and the deer.

One distant black dot seems larger and closer 

To the ground than a deer;

A pointed snout on a huge head,

Two small tusks,

Big eyes and prominent whiskers.

We realize that we are seeing

Our first wart hog in the wild.

Later as we sit reading and writing,

Both monkeys and warthogs surprise and delight us

When they appear within a few feet of us.

In the afternoon, we join a safari tour.

As I climb up into the old decrepit landrover,

I remember our landrover, "Cranberry;

Landrovers have aluminum bodies that never rust.

Unfortunately everything else on them 

Often refuses to latch or work,

This landrover is no exception.

As we bump and grind over a rocky trail,

Our armed guide answers questions:

All of the deer we have seen

Are really one of the seven species 

Of antelope that live in Mole Park.

Mole Park is 4500 square kilometres

And was started in 1971. 

There are four species of monkeys.

Our African chipmunk is really an African squirrel.

Mongoose are smaller than I imagined.

So are the crocodiles.

Although there are lions and other large cats in the park,

It is very unlikely that we will see one.

The same goes for all the poisonous snakes.

The beautiful bright green bird,

That I keep photographing,
Is a red throated bee eater.

Eventually, we spy one lone elephant.

We climb down from our land rover

And gingerly traverse the hundreds of rough elephant footprints

From the rainy season that are now cement hard.

When I think we are about 25 meters from our elephant,

Our guide advises us to never get closer than 50 meters.

I take dozens of photos of our elephant hidden in the bush;

An ear, a trunk, a tail, a tusk.

Suddenly our elephant steps out of the bushes.

His ears flap back and forth.

His truck swings in front tasting the air.

We lock eyes.

I make sure I get one great photo,

Before I leave him be.