Gift of the Baboon


May 9, 2016 by petrujviljoen

Walking is a virtue, tourism is a deadly sin – Bruce Chatwin, What am I doing here?


That morning was hard. Getting up out of bed was difficult. Two steps to the window were all I had.

A hierarchy of baboons arrived in front of my house, doing what baboons do. The alpha male intimidating the babies and females, adults immodest, everyone grazing, children cheeky…  some even ventured over the flimsy, wooden fence into the garden.

I stood perfectly still in front of the window. One or two kept looking towards the house but they didn’t bolt as they usually would at noticing a human creature. I’m sure the reflections on the window panes from outside obscured my image and perhaps they weren’t sure I wasn’t a pillar (of salt). Or a tree growing inside – my first thought. Depressed, even so, negativity can be a reflex.

No other agenda besides eat, play, sleep and procreate. I was jealous of the zen of it all. Saw a baby being tumbled by a parent, not sure what the poor thing did but it merely got up and got on. The alpha male climbed the willow tree across the dirt track. A branch broke under his weight.  Falling gracefully, he seemed to take flight, keeping balance, holding onto the branch, working with gravity. Once on the ground, he strutted on. I nearly clapped at the wonderful performance.
I found a wild fig tree they missed, picked a bag full and made jam and ate a lot of it on the spot and had a momentary fantasy of going wild myself, just living off the land. Hoping to go camping soon. I must get a little gas stove, do love my coffee in the mornings.


soul-wearying night

Break of day a slim relief –

hey look! A circus!


Linked to Dverse, for haibun Monday, hosted by Bjorn Rudberg.


35 thoughts on “Gift of the Baboon

  1. bethanyk says:

    I would have LOVED to have seen this. Your thoughts as you watched them were quite profound.

  2. Rosemary Nissen-Wade says:

    What a delightful experience to have!

  3. Mish says:

    I was captivated by your story. There is so much to be learned from simply observing nature in motion…..and this was quite an entertaining reward for forcing oneself to take a few steps out of a darker place. I like the way thoughts seemed to ramble at the end and wander…. to living off the land. A very interesting haibun.

  4. This is so interesting and so descriptive of your encounter with the baboons. I love the way you snow a longing to just exist in a natural way. Very zen or what used to be very human?

  5. whimsygizmo says:

    Oh, MY! What a glorious morning show! I loved this!

  6. lillian says:

    You made the most of those two steps to the window!
    Ah — tipping my morning coffee cup to you….we are similar souls in our love of that aromatic morning elixir! 🙂

  7. Sumana Roy says:

    an interesting observation and story…

  8. kim881 says:

    Baboons outside your window – fabulous! Only two steps to your personal circus.

  9. I love how you were pulled out from your bed by observing those baboons… to let yourself be inspired by their priorities. I think camping actually bring up the same kind of thinking in us… love your story.

  10. B. E. Adalgari says:

    This was an interesting approach to a theme that I’ve seen crop up again and again in the responses to today’s prompt: the self as it exists in nature, and in solitude, as opposed to the “constructed” self we usually inhabit to cope with the day-to-day demands of life. Are we robbing ourselves of peace– denying something of our fundamental natures– in our modern lives? And what can we do about that?

    These are difficult questions we seem to all be grappling with, but it seems that at least part of the answer seems to be in the act of creating poetry itself…

    and in particular I like the humor and light-hearted (if somewhat sardonic) touch you bring to the subject

    • Thank you very much for a comprehensive comment. I do think that we deny ourselves a vital soul journey by not communing with nature in a healthy way. I can’t ever go back to the city, ever!

  11. Nan Mykel says:

    It was fun having that experience with you! Thanks.

  12. kanzensakura says:

    Amazing! I love the visuals of the baboons and all their movements. Yes camping with a gas stove so one can have coffee. I wonder if wild figs taste differently from domesticated. My figs will not come in until late summer. I always do make jam from them but save quite a few to eat raw covered with cream. I wonder how it would be to look out my window and see the circus there, for free. What fun this was!

    • Wild figs have a sharper taste, not as sweet and the peals chaff the lips and tongue rather severely. I looked up a recipe on the internet and used cinnamon in the jam and it was very tasty. Our autumn has just kicked in so figs are a long way off for us here in South Africa. 🙂 Fig jam with blue cheese is a rather wonderful snack. The baboons, monkeys, and so on often are a source of mirth. They can be pests too I can assure you!

      • kanzensakura says:

        I can just imagine. When my grandmother made fig jam, she always added a of orange juice and some zest. My domesticated figs are tender and soft as a baby kitten. But so sweet. It is always fun to me to learn about food in different places. Somehow the baboons make me think of a group (our neighbors down the way, mercifully) who have been taught no manners or boundaries. They have finally learned our yard is not their yard and my garden is not a playground. At least the baboons are amusing, lol.

        • Laughing about your neighbours! They (the baboons) ate my entire tomato crop so not so pleased with them at the mo’, in spite of their obvious intelligence and sometimes entertainment value.

  13. Grace says:

    I am jealous by the zen of it and how nature makes us reflect on the complications of our lives ~ Enjoyed your take ~

  14. jillys2016 says:

    Oh, so thought-provoking! The opening lines (getting up out of bed was difficult) beg the question of ‘why’ and keep me moving forward. The invisibility of the narrator permeates this entire piece – stunning!

    • The ‘why’ of it is probably common enough, most people get a bit depressed from time to time. Thanks for the visit, am complimented by the comment.

  15. Pleasant Street says:

    That’s an amazing story! Where do you live that you can see baboons outside your window? They are suddenly more interesting than I realized. Great descriptions 🙂

    • I live on a man-made pine plantation; the trees are grown and harvested for industrial purposes and luckily a vast span of undisturbed nature is right on my doorstep. The baboons, and other wild life, is a daily occurrence. There were even rumours of leopards in the area but thankfully haven’t seen any. Baboons can be royalty, I can tell you.

  16. Jealous of the zen of it all–yes! Would that we could learn from them to soak in the present moment.

  17. Two steps is a very short walk, but often the most interesting and unusual things are seen on short walks.

  18. I love this story. And I do think camping sounds just right.

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