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Of Kingfishers and caterpillars - do they remember?
June 1, 2013, 7:37 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s the calm before the storm in Zimbabwe, and we’re soaking it up, watching, waiting and bracing for what’s to come. It couldn’t be a nicer time to be watching!  In the cool, clear mornings the Woodland Kingfishers wake you up with their insistent, noisy chattering, going on for so long that there’s no chance of going back to sleep and plenty of time to get up and admire their exquisite blue wings and astonishing red bills.

As the days warm up and the political wannabees fight it out in their primary elections, we are basking under a glorious, wide blue sky. Power cuts of early winter leave us listening to what’s going on outside and this week it’s the soft plopping sound of caterpillars falling out of trees. Fearsome looking black caterpillars, 5 centimetres long, and covered with long grey hairs are falling out of the Musasa trees at a startling rate. Unlike most hairy caterpillars, the grey hairs on these caterpillars don’t shoot, sting or itch, they are soft and fine. Around here they call them Madora and the caterpillars feed on Musasa trees and are a sought after delicacy at this time of year. Squeezing the innards out, a quick rinse and then a few minutes in boiling salted water. When they’re cooked and dry, if you can get past the psychology of the business, it’s difficult not to like them: hard and crunchy with a spicy, peppery flavour.

Listening to Kingfishers and eating caterpillars while the politicians tear themselves apart makes you wonder if all these grown men and women fighting over power and diamonds can remember what it’s like to see, taste, hear and smell these little treasures of our amazing country anymore. Only thirteen million Zimbabweans in this vast 391 thousand square kilometre country; isn’t there room enough for us all  to share this treasure regardless of our skin colours and political persuasions?

For months everyone’s been saying that business is hardly ticking over, money’s not being spent, no one’s investing or expanding  and the country’s stuck in election paralysis mode. This week the direct result of our leaders’ behaviour was finally acknowledged by a member of government. Thanks to the perpetual arguing, threatening and uncertainty over elections, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Zimbabwe’s economy had shrunk by 3% during the first quarter of this year. "The elephant in the living room evidently is the election and the sooner there is clarity on the dates from the politicians the better for the economy," he said   

As the sun sets over Zimbabwe this June, it’s almost always into a golden, coppery horizon accompanied by the whistling of a Heuglin Robin and the screams of distant Francolins. Reaching for our winter woollies we wait for another star- filled night sky and wonder how much longer this relative calm will last and how much longer before the dreaded elections. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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