Melissa Dalton-Bradford’s Wild (reading) Life
The African savannah is blistering at midday. That is when the beasts go into retreat.
“Beasts”, in this case, includes the lion, cheetah, gazelle, rhinoceros, hippo, warthog, and of course the fearsome bookworm.
Like I have done for every trip, I took physically lightweight (but literarily heavyweight) reading in my carry-on for our family’s recent safari in Tanzania, Africa. We were visiting our college-age daughter Claire, who was volunteering as a warden at a juvenile detention center in Arusha, and when not learning from local families about daily life in an African village, we were with local guides spotting wildlife.
Or we were reading.
Our terrific guides set up these tent accommodations, so beyond sleeping, eating, showering and toileting in private, we had places to read in total comfort. Was I reading Dinesen? Conrad? Kingsolver? Achebe? McCall Smith? Strangely enough, nope. I had already read them (had annotated them to a pulp, to let you in on my reading habits.) Was I reading bird, plant and mammal guides? No again. I took care of that while out in the Jeep.
In the first shot, I am reading the meditative works of Henri Nouwen: Turn My Mourning Into Dancing, Return of the Prodigal Son, and The Wounded Healer. (Okay, not very wild reading, but as soothing as hushed spirituality of the African landscape.)
In the second shot, I am writing. Wherever I travel, I take both something to read in my carry-on, and something with which to write in my pocket. The Maasai tribesmen didn’t understand all my questions, but I left with more questions than I’d brought. Sign of a successful trip!
Melissa Dalton-Bradford is the author of Global Mom: Eight Countries, Sixteen Addresses, Five Languages, One Family (Familius, July 2013). She holds a BA in German and an MA in Comparative Literature, both from Brigham Young University. She speaks, reads and writes fluent German, French, and Norwegian, is conversant in Mandarin, and has taught language, humanities, and writing on the university level. Bradford has performed professionally as a soprano soloist and actress in the US, Scandinavia, Central Europe, and South East Asia. She and her husband raised their family of four children in Hong Kong, Vienna, Oslo, Paris, Munich, Singapore, and Geneva, Switzerland. Connect with Melissa at www.melissadaltonbradford.wordpress.com.
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