YOUR MOMENT

A double rainbow. Surely that would mean double the luck? “I used to chase rainbows all over the farm as a little boy,” Andrew murmured while taking another picture of the intense rainbow standing out in full brilliance against the moody grey sky left by the sudden shower of rain.

“I used to associate rainbows with God’s promise not to flood the earth again.” Sophie turned from the window from which she had been watching the reflection of a windmill in the slate-coloured surface of the dam nearby. “Don’t laugh. Young children can be gullible, you know.”

Andrew’s dimpled smile made her feel silly. He switched on the engine and resumed their journey into the gathering darkness. “I always preferred the crock of gold theory,” he laughed. “What changed your mind?”

“Switch on the television news and there is bound to be coverage of devastating floods in one place or another: people being rescued from rooftops, being dug out of the mud,” Sophie shivered involuntarily. “I often wonder what those people feel about rainbows.”

“They probably hope it is a sign the rain has come to an end. Many floods are the outcome of bad land use practices somewhere along the line: deforestation, ignoring the flood lines when building, ploughing the wrong way …”

“Now you’re turning a rainbow into something really serious.” The teasing tone in Sophie’s voice elicited a chortle from her companion.

“When one works in the wild as much as I do,” he responded defensively, “one realises the urgency of maintaining a balance between so-called development and the overall health of our planet.”

He slowed to turn into the tree-lined driveway leading to Sophie’s family home. She clicked the remote in her bag and they both watched the spiked railing gate glittering in the headlights as it slid open.

“I hope your folks won’t be too worried about us arriving so much later than we thought we would.” The touch of anxiety in Andrew’s voice was new to Sophie. It was her turn to laugh confidently.

“I let Mom know we were watching lions at the waterhole. Dad will understand: he’s always after that ‘perfect shot’, so Mom is used to waiting.”

They walked hand-in-hand along the curved brick path leading to the front door.

“Hello!” Oscar Chambers opened the door before Sophie could even turn her key in the lock. He hugged his daughter then shook Andrew’s hand warmly. “Welcome to our family,” he boomed. “Jane is in the kitchen. Come through.”

Andrew took in the cosy-looking kitchen, the aroma of freshly-baked bread and the simplicity of the table setting as the family sat down to the evening meal. He felt relieved Jane had chosen the kitchen rather than the formal dining room he had glimpsed on his way through the house.

Oscar wanted to know about the animals they had seen during their three-day visit to the nearby game reserve. “I always try to get shots of the Big Five,” he commented. “Not all at once though. Finding them is half the fun.”

“I like the smaller creatures too though,” Sophie ventured. “Andrew’s taken a lovely shot of a rock monitor basking on top of the wooden posts flanking the path leading to the bird hide.”

“Your lion pictures are good too?” It was clear where Oscar’s interest lay.

Much later that evening Andrew and Sophie cradled warm mugs of coffee as they sat on the veranda watching the moon rising. Both felt relieved the first meeting was over.

“My parents think you are a ‘fine lad’ who will go far,” Sophie whispered, snuggling against Andrew.

“Do they know yet that I’m whisking you away for a week in the Baviaanskloof during your next break?” Andrew squeezed her hand. “You’ve been rather coy about that.”

“Well, it’ll be less dangerous than our white water rafting experience after Christmas. Dad didn’t really appreciate that photograph of me falling head-first into a rapid!”

Andrew pulled her closer. “That was your moment,” he said softly. “It was your cheerful reaction to the rough and tumble of that trip – and the way you turned the air blue at the baboons marauding our camp – that made me look at you in a different light.”

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