Floating hills

Gabane hills0001


Diana Newton
Floating hills, 1981
Watercolor
(
16.1 x 12.2 inches)
(41 x 31 cm)
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Whenever I climbed the hills in Botswana, I watched my step to avoid stumbling on a puff adder, and always packed a snake bite kit in my backpack. You won't find me screaming at the sight of a snake. But snakes are definitely not (I repeat, not) my favorite creatures. In fact, I feel strongly that I have had enough close encounters (with puff adders, black mambas, green mambas, spitting cobras, and their likes) to last a lifetime. Would I ever considered so-called "graduated exposure therapy" ( or "counterconditioning") to get over my (very sane, I believe) aversion to poisonous snakes? NO. NON. NEIN. NEJ. HET. NYAA. (That last one, you may have guessed, is "no" in Setswana.) Puff adders are not nice and puffy. They are venomous snakes. Slow moving, they can strike very quickly and I had no desire to get bitten before reaching the top of a hill. There, invariably I would hold my breath to take in the glorious spread of bush, with its shades of gold in the dry season and vibrant palette of greens during the rainy time of year. And in the distance, those blue hills. Oh, those hills!  Floating on the distant horizon, beyond reach, real, yet almost a mirage, they held me in their spell. For a brief moment, Botswana was no longer landlocked, but bordered by an ocean.