where lions sleep

April 7, 2007

It is a sound unlike any I have ever heard before, and a sound impossible to describe with the written word. But once you have heard it, you can never forget it. So my sleep has been sweet, lulled into slumber each night to the soft and steady hum of the lions.
It has been the week of the lions. A small pride of females moved into the camp—no one knows why, as it is unusual for them to choose such a relatively inhabited spot, humanly speaking, for their hunting grounds. But they are most definitely here. And our daily life has been significantly disrupted.
I first realized how much so when a vehicle arrived early Monday to pick us up from school. The driver explained that the lions were right there behind the school, and so it was not safe for us to take our usual 5-minute walk back for lunch break.
For the remainder of that afternoon, we heard consistently intermittent reminders that one large cat was lounging right behind us. She was just hidden enough by the grasses for us to not be able to get a good look, but tauntingly close enough that each rustle in the grasses left us with almost-glimpses.
The next disruption occurred when the subject of my morning runs came up among staff. While I had asked about running before I came, it has ended up being debated off and on, as local folks notice my habitual roaming of the grounds.
It was with trepidation that I awaited the outcome of these deliberations—being an utter addict, if I were to be cut off from my run, I would be a lost soul indeed. Ultimately, to my great relief, it was decided that I could keep my routine, on one condition: I can no longer run with headphones.
So I am, for the first time in about 10 years now of running, getting used to what I call my “silent runs.” It’s been actually quite a nice realization to find that I can adapt to hearing only the sound of my own feet and breath. No doubt when I am once again living in an area where I can run with my iPod, I will welcome its return, but for now, I am happy without.
And so we have come through what I will remember as the week of the lions.

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