Sitting one Tuesday lunchtime, idly surfing the Net, an image of flowering Jacarandas scrolled over my computer screen, and like those feel-good posters, it triggered a little bit of an endorphin rush. Taking a deep breath, I could smell the August air outside; the quickly warming temperatures of the previous few days heralded the approach of spring and Jacarandas. A slight dew that morning had created an aroma not unlike the first drops of summer rain on dry African soil, and outside I could hear the tentative popping of Acacia pods as they split to drop their seeds. Oh, what a glorious time of year!
I let my mind wander a bit, as it does at this time of year, to one particular dam that tugs at the fabric of my being. A little farm dam, many will remember as Xanadu or Garamapudzi, nestled in the Concession farming area, spurred my passion for fishing in the early days. For an easy weekend getaway, we would trek out on a Friday afternoon, launch boats and catch the Golden Hour, as the hazy August light painted the standing trees a surreal pink. Reflecting off the still evening waters, swathes of indigo blue sky, tinged with the orange onset of day's end, hung like a painting in the hallways of the mind. Real, but somehow unreal. Lone herons, or distant flocks of vee-formation birds and ducks were hints that it was not an illusion.
It was a place where huge mamma bass, busting bait-fish amongst the reeds and scraggly Chicamba weed, were always game to pounce on one's offering, and double hook-ups were common. They spurred us on, and early mornings would find us braving the lingering winter morning chill with numbed and clumsy fingers, and a sting prickling the skin. Drifting through the morning mist, ghostly tendrils would swirl and billow, offering glimpses of lay-downs and secret hidey-holes. Muffled by the heavy air, splashes and slurps penetrated the mist, raising one's pulse to an audible thudding in the ears. A blind cast, a moment to wait, then an explosion ... Ah, shear ecstasy!
I snapped back to reality when another image appeared on my screen. Annoyed at the intrusion, I pondered it a moment. Now, I am not given to imaginings of illness. It is a fact, and even when I am really sick, I can usually overcome it with a little brain power. Imagine my shock and horror when my thoughts of summer were disturbed by an Internet quote, telling me I might be sick. It seems I am a phile, and suffer philic tendencies. Shocked, I read on.
Apparently, being philic is an obsessive love, as real a potential human condition, as is obsessive fear. As I read on, I was not surprised to learn I suffered ichthyophilia ... a love of fish. I love looking at them, I love catching them, and I even love eating them! I would call that an obsession. Still, there was more to my condition as it seems I also have potamophilia, a passion for rivers and running water. I cannot count the number of times I have been led astray by a river, always wanting to see what was around the next corner, always going that little bit farther, always excited by the next overhanging tree or tangled root system along the bank. And flying, something I love as much as fishing which means I am a aviophiliac, too. Imagine ...
As I read on, the philias gave me more pause for thought, and in no time I was off on another mind journey. Brontophilia, the love of thunder and lightning ... I can smell the summer rain now, which also makes me a ombrophiliac. Cenophilia is an obsession with empty spaces, which I imagine is what I suffer when sitting on the end of a bush runway at sunset, or atop a rocky kopje with vistas stretching to the horizon before me; or my passion for trees--dendrophilia. Who has stood in the shade of a Baobab and not marveled at its presence?
The list of my ailments seem endless, and every condition a new and exciting revelation of just how "sick" I really am, and how privileged I am to be in the most appropriate hospital in the world: Africa! I leave you with one more affliction I have, and hope you will search for its meaning, with a wish that you too will wander off on a journey of your own--Caligynephilia ... one of my favourite afflictions.