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Posted December 20, 2011
Dispatch #14
The Language of Love

This is one in a series of email dispatches from Africa written this fall by photographer Michael Nichols to his picture editor, Kathy Moran.

Dear Kathy,

Today is my birthday, and Reba has been planning a nice day for weeks, working on treats and surprises.

The lions called close by all night, so we were sure that we would find them in the soft light of dawn. Finally, some good images of our resident males? Zero. We only saw the very shy female, but elected not to approach her.

After a drenching rain yesterday, I decided to follow our hyenas in the great blue light and they stirred up a baby Thomson’s gazelle hiding in the short grass. I drove and followed, and we witnessed the tired baby finally giving up and being caught, and then carried around the plains in a hyena dance.

I was shooting with a handheld 600mm lens while driving, thinking, of course, there was no chance that the images would be in focus. Strangely, everything I did that day that shouldn’t have worked did. Photography and this place sometimes hand you unexpected gifts.

My breakfast birthday cake was brought by our caretakers Hendri, James, and Hamisi with candles and a song. We are reminded every day that our communication is flawed. They sang to Nathan and the cake was beautifully labeled “Happy Birthday Nathan.” It’s all good. I’m just happy to be alive and sharing another day with the love of my life.

Previous Next dispatch: “Famine and Feast”

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