Greetings dear wilderness aficionados, Gage Neal here. Sit back and gladden your hearts with love for the wild, for we are delving into a natural saga featuring Mildred. Who, pray tell, might Mildred be? Ah, Mildred is no ordinary dame, she is a majestic black rhinoceros I had the joy of chasing and observing from a safe and respectful distance in the heartlands of the wild.
Now, locating Mildred was an odyssey in itself. It was a succession of tracing broken twigs, following disarrayed pieces of foliage, and interpreting muddy rhinoceros footprints that looked like a Picasso painting come alive. After a grueling six hours, my fellow bushwhipper and I spotted hulking Mildred at a waterhole, lounging regally as though she was Queen Cleopatra at her bath.
She was everything rhinoceros-and-beyond. Majestically mottled with the scars of a true wilderness warrior, she commanded respect with a stare that could silence even the fiercest of lions. Yet instead of basking in silent domina, our Mildred was quite the chatterbox, conversing in silent signals with her bush compatriots, from the scores of fidgeting warthogs to the zebras that seemed to be engaged in an eternal game of black and white checkers.
Oh, dear friends, imagine the riveting conversations between Mildred and Luke Skywalker, a comparatively tiny dik-dik that had evidently seen too many Star Wars movies. As they grazed side by side, I could almost imagine Mildred 'speaking', "Luke, my child, your insignificant size matters not. It's the size of the force within you that counts." In response, Luke Skywalker blinked up at her as if to say, "Size matters not, look at me, judge me by my size, do you?"
My following days were engulfed in observing Mildred's silently eloquent existence. Daybreak saw her eating her frugal meals that generally constituted leafy brunches and infrequently, mineral-rich soil like an equine fine-dining experience. These seemingly mundane affairs were punctuated by bold jaunts down to the river where she cavorted with the hippos and survived occasional skirmishes with the crocodiles, resembling an exalted battle queen practicing martial arts with nervous foot soldiers.
Nights, however, were taciturnly enchanting. Mildred, the wilderness grandmother transformed into a celestial storyteller under the star-lit sky. There she stood, silhouetted against the moon, her hefty form casting shadows that danced on the plains. The zebras, gnus, and impalas forming a meek perimeter seemed like children on a camp night, hypnotized by the silent fables that unfolded with each toss of Mildred's head or stamp of her foot.
In particular, I recall a vivid altercation between Mildred and Clementine, a particularly cheeky hyena who had been encroaching on Mildred's solace. Barring mild grunting indicating mild fury, Mildred adopted a diplomacy straight out of a Roosevelt playbook. "Clementine, my dear," she seemed to say. "Caution becomes a lady more than daring. Venture not into Charlotte's web." Charlotte being, of course, the massive weaver spider making her abode in Mildred's favorite Acacia.
Indeed, meddling with Mildred's Acacia was akin to tugging on Superman's cape. An unwritten rule of bush etiquette, it seemed.
Ah, dear friends, I bid you adieu from a sun-streaked African morning that still echoes with Mildred's grunts of wisdom, whispering secrets of the wild. Our journey continues. Until next time, remember to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs in the unbelievably fascinating wilderness.