Leopards

I had hoped we would at least catch a glimpse of a leopard during our time at MalaMala. As it turned out, we saw at least one per day and a couple were within arm’s reach of the Land Rover. We watched one pounce at a rabbit but miss. (Another group bragged at lunch that they saw him catch it right after we left.) Beautiful animals!

My favorite photo was one my dad captured at sunset –

Leopard yawn at sunset

Here are some video clips –

And more photos –

A music without beginning and without end

Nadia Boulanger was a composer and music teacher in France – one of the best teachers ever. Among her students were Aaron Copland (Fanfare for the Common Man), Quincy Jones (producer of Michael Jackson’s best albums), Astor Piazzolla (bandoneon [accordion-type instrument] composer – I heard his music from a street band in Italy), Philip Glass (pianist and Truman Show soundtrack composer), and Joe Raposo (creator of the Sesame Street theme and Kermit the Frog’s “Being Green (It’s Not Easy)”).

George Gershwin sought her as a teacher but she declined because she said he had already found his voice. That was what she was good at and that’s why her students had such diverse styles – all she did was help them find their voice, without imposing her own on them. Astor Piazzolla came to her for classical music training and she perceived that he had another love — he reluctantly admitted that he loved tangos on the accordion. She asked him to play a tango for her. She said, “Astor, your classical pieces are well written, but the true Piazzolla is here, never leave it behind”.

She would ask prospective students: “Can you live without music? If you can live without music, thank the Lord and goodbye.” (See video where she discusses this.)

“Nothing is better than music; when it takes us out of time, it has done more for us than we have the right to hope for.” – Nadia Boulanger

She became friends with Leonard Bernstein, the great conductor of the New York Philharmonic and composer of West Side Story. Their final visit took place in Fontainebleau as she was floating between coma and sleep on her death bed. He was surprised to be recognized. “Cher Lenny,” she called him.

In Bernstein’s words:

“Then I heard myself asking: ‘Vous entendez la musique dans la tete?” (Do you hear music in your head?)

Instant reply: “Tout le temps, tout le temps.” (All the time, all the time.)

This so encouraged me that I continued, as if in quotidian conversation: “Et qu’est-ce vous entendez, ce moment-ci?” (And what do you hear right now?)

I thought of her preferred loves. “Mozart? Monteverdi? Bach, Stravinsky, Ravel?”

Long pause. “Une musique. . .” (A music. . .)

Very long pause . . . “ni commencement, ni fin” (. . . without beginning and without end).

(From Findings by Leonard Bernstein)

Vultures

Vultures brought me a lot of enjoyment during the safari. They gathered in sinister-looking trees just like you’d expect and their heads bobbed up and down exactly like the Beatles-type vultures in Disney’s The Jungle Book.

We first saw them trying to get in on the remains of a Cape buffalo taken down by lions. The lions were so full they could barely walk, but they still chased the birds away a few times before giving in. The second group was waiting for a larger group of lions to finish with a zebra. The vultures fought over lion scat and gathered in a nearby tree for their turn with the meal.

Here are a few clips set to “That’s What Friends are For” from The Jungle Book.

And some photos –

Safari

I’m waist deep in footage from the South African photo safari we went on last week at MalaMala Game Reserve next to Kruger National Park. Here are a few videos and some of my favorite photos so far –

Elephant and rhinoceros mud bath (safe for all stomachs) –

Lions vs. vultures (warning: a little bit of raw meat) –

Overstuffed lions try to protect the leftovers of a Cape buffalo meal from hungry and persistent vultures.

Zebra feast (warning: medium graphic but super interesting. Noisy eaters!) –

Another Land Rover pulled up behind us and a woman said, “Wait, what are they doing?! Are they eating a zebra?! I do NOT want to see that. I thought they were just hanging out!”

Photos –

 

 

Aspen Grove 2017

We spent an awesome week at Aspen Grove Family camp in August. It was difficult to narrow things down to just a few minutes of video, but here’s what you get –

And a few photos –