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Kicking up a storm

We were picked up at Maun by our son in the most battered Land Rover I had ever seen, but then I had never had to straighten an axle in the bush by beating it with a rock. Everything that could catch or snag was folded away.

The road ran out on the edge of town turning into another deeply rutted dusty African track which in a couple of hours should get us to Dog Camp where he was based. The dust was particularly bad because this was the very end of the dry season and we were in the flood plain of a tributary of the Okavango, so the dust was light alluvium. We were raising a regular plume and it seemed to penetrate everywhere.

As we rounded a corner there was a small group of impala bucks standing under some acacia trees. They look dainty and petite. In fact, they are quite sturdy, about the size of a British fallow deer. They looked up as we rolled towards them.

"Welcome home, it has been a long time." my flight fuddled mind imagined them saying, but they were thinking that we looked a bit out of place, we were too big, noisy and advancing on them - they would be safer elsewhere. So, they pronked off in swirls of dust, leaping high to suggest how fit they were and how we would be better off looking for something less agile and fit.

I just remember the overwhelming yellowness of the sun filled dust and the beauty of their leaping and that is what I set out to recall here, as a companion piece to my most recent painting "Richmond Reds". There must have been about 20 of them but including them all would have meant reducing the size and not showing the emotional impact they made on me. So I grouped four around the centre line of the canvas and moved the vegetation into the top third so everywhere is filled by the swirling shiny dust.


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