I Just Wanted to Be Sure of You

My grandparents are long gone, my mother died in 1963, daddy died in 1986, and my stepmother died in 2010. I guess that, technically, I am a 66 year old orphan — but I am lucky enough to have a big network of friends who have become my family.

I often take time to reflect on what a fortunate person I am. But no more than when I spend time with my friends. As Elbert Hubbard (who?) said, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”

And I have gathered them from so many different parts of my life. Six of them gathered for a birthday dinner for me recently and we commented on that very thing. All six of us are linked by theater: five by Board membership at the Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and another friend who is a supporter of Remy Bumppo.

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Sitting in a big hotel in Lusaka
Very Western
Pleasant but sterile
Sitting by a lovely “water feature”
With koi and papyrus and purple flowers
And water lilies


The Solar Powered Bush Baby

by Nancy McDaniel

Not very long ago, in the Botswana bush far far away, Russell, The Guide, and Trudi, The Hostess, asked where I got all my energy. This is not a question that people in Chicago often ask me. In Chicago, I often fall asleep while watching the 10 p.m. news. In Botswana, in the Okavango Delta, the crown jewel of the African Bush, I never want to sleep. In fact, I resent ever having to go to bed.

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A Safari for My Senses

by Nancy McDaniel

So many times I’ve been on safari in Africa and I’ve always seen many wondrous things. People ask me if I go to see the animals. Of course I do. But there’s so much more to see than just the animals, remarkable as they are. On my most recent safari to Botswana, I saw little miracles every day. But I also heard them, smelled them, and felt them. I’ve never been so in touch with all my senses as I was on this trip.

A Magical Place Named Okavango
Our first camp was in the Okavango Delta, on the tip of Chief’s Island, at a place called Mombo Trails. The Okavango Delta is a magnificent place, lying in the midst of the Kalahari Desert, the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world. The Delta is a “magical 18,000 square kilometer wonderland of waterways, floodplains, islands and forests.” (Adrian Bailey, “Okavango: Africa’s Wetland Wilderness”) This is a place I’d been wanting to come to for the past several years. I was not to be disappointed.

At “Little Mombo,” we saw everything we hoped for – and more. We saw all the big cats: lions, leopard and cheetah, all closer than I’ve ever seen them before. Our Land Rover was the only vehicle around, so we were able to follow the animals closely, without disrupting them. Here, unlike in east Africa, when we came upon a cheetah mother and cub, it was just us, not a convoy of ten safari vehicles encircling the cats. We could experience their behavior, not just their presence.

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The Beverly Hillbillies Head for Binga

by Nancy McDaniel

The reason I first went to Zimbabwe had nothing to do with one of those infomercials, the ones that show crying, hungry children and ask you to send money to feed them. Instead, it had to do with two statistics I read:

(1) about 500,000 women die in Africa each year of pregnancy-related problems, some attributed to inadequate nutrition and prenatal care and

(2) in Zimbabwe, out of every 1000 children born, about 70 die, many an indirect result of maternal malnutrition. The health of the children, the babies, is due in large part to that of their mother. If she is not well nourished, her whole family suffers.

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The Costa Rican Eagle Has Landed

by Nancy McDaniel

One day in November, several years ago, my art director friend, Wendy (not her real name), and I were on a one-day business trip to Indianapolis. During a break, we walked outside to get some air and began commiserating about the upcoming and unrelenting ordeal called “New Year’s Eve.”

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