Ellie and Her Memories
Ellie stood back and looked at the breeding herd with a sense of love and accomplishment. As she was nearing the end of her days, she contemplated how each of her elephant kin would move through their destinies after she was gone. Fifty years ago she was a tiny calf just like the little one that was standing so close to her now. As Ellie grew up she had watched her grandmother over see the herd, ensuring their safety and nurturing each new calf into the group. Over the years she saw young ones fall prey to hungry predators, and strong stately adults be taken down by poachers. She had been through droughts and floods, bouts of disease and times of despair. But as she walked through her memories, she was grateful for all her days, as each one held something that helped her grow and learn to love in a way only time can provide. Her daughter, and soon to be matriarch, was quietly moving through the herd, checking on all the members, stopping to nuzzle the young ones. When she was satisfied all was well she returned to her own daughters side and stood patiently as everyone drank their fill of the never ending water from the Nkorho-pan. Her grandmother had brought them here many times, as even when the ground was dry and yielded nothing but brittle branches and sparse blades of grass the water was plentiful. Ellie glanced at the open field and remembered a time when the herds of animals would migrate through the land and leave trails of sucked dry waterholes and trampled grass. Pulled out of her thoughts of the past, a sudden noise startled the herd and the adults huddled around the calves, leaving only the tiny feet visible to a predators eyes. Within a minute the elephants had settled down, as it was merely a small group of baboons frolicking in the nearby bush. Ellie recognized Bab, the alpha male, watching him as he sat upon a fallen branch, giving him just enough height to keep a watch over his troop. The young ones somersaulted over each other and ran like the wind, grabbing tails and squealing as they circled the trees and jumped through the grass. Ellie had always enjoyed their love of life, but knew if a leopard came near they would all be in the trees within seconds. If need be, Bab would bare his ferocious teeth and make threats and gestures to keep the leopard from coming up the tree and disturbing his family. A small movement caught Ellie's attention but didn't' concern her, as it was barely big enough to warrant a glance. It was Mongy and his family of mongoose scurrying around and digging frantically to find one last morsel before running off to the security of the bush and their little hidden tunnels in the old termite mounds. They always fascinated Ellie as she couldn't imagine having to move that fast for anything, much less just to eat a disgusting beetle or other crawling critter. While she had never spoken to Mongy she had heard great stories of his bravery and determination when faced with an enemy. The sun was beginning to set and Ellie rumbled a message to the herd, reminding them they need to move on soon. The little ones immediately moved between the adults and waited patiently as the last few got their fill of the water. One step from Ellie and the herd would follow, a slow moving train of elephants heading off to another destination. The air was beginning to change, the breeze had died down and the scent of the night had moved in. Ellie saw everyone had finished drinking and the little ones were getting restless, so she turned and began the trek back into the bush to find food. They're quiet footsteps were heard only by the occasional twig that was disturbed or the babies trying out their voices along the way, tiny trumpets of sound that would one day be strong and vibrant, announcing the arrival and departure of a magnificent creature. Ellie wondered how many more days she would lead the herd, but realized it didn't matter. This moment she was living was good. She had watched her life and the lives of her family move through the years as they were intended to. Life was precious, and she was glad she was a part of it. The sun slowly set and the line of silently moving elephants blended into the bushes, perhaps to return the next day with new stories to share and new adventures to explore. But for now, the day was done with another soon to be on the horizon. Ellie stopped by the trees that offered the best choice of leaves and began to pull the branches down close enough to wrap her trunk around the leaves and pull them off. The little ones nursed and clung to their mothers as the night brought a new sense of the unknown. Soon they moved on and out of sight.. no sound or shadow left behind to show they had been there. Such is the life around the waterhole, ever changing, ever revealing, and soon to be visited by a herd with a new matriarch.