Friday, November 09, 2007

Nibbled By An Okapi

Ok…now about that Okapi thing. A new blog buddy recently asked, “Why an okapi? Just Curious.” Well, the okapi thing has several different origins.

When I was a kid, I was truly obsessed with two things: Disco music and my Safari Animal Cards. When I wasn’t dancing in the living room to Saturday afternoon Soul Train, I was memorizing and categorizing my animal cards and fantasizing about future expeditions to Madagascar. My favorite animal was the okapi. I was captivated by its graceful lines and mysterious past, and I loved the idea that this really large animal could have remained undiscovered by Westerners until the 20th century.

A little later in life, I read, and enjoyed, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and was particularly amused when it was revealed that the main character’s “only brother was long ago nibbled to death by an okapi.”

Then I discovered The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. It is one of my three most favoritest books, ever – the other two being Beloved and Prodigal Summer. Here’s a beautiful okapi-infused excerpt from The Poisonwood Bible

She is inhumanly alone. And then, all at once, she isn't. A beautiful animal stands on the other side of the water. They look up from their lives, woman and animal, amazed to find themselves in the same place. He freezes, inspecting her with his black-tipped ears. His back is purplish-brown in the dim light, sloping downward from the gentle hump of his shoulders. The forest’s shadows fall into lines across his white-striped flanks. His stiff forelegs splay out to the sides like stilts, for he's been caught in the act of reaching down for water. Without taking his eyes from her, he twitches a little at the knee, then the shoulder, where a fly devils him. Finally he surrenders his surprise, looks away and drinks. She can feel the touch of his long, curled tongue on the water's skin, as if he were lapping from her hand. His head bobs gently, nodding small, velvet horns lit white from behind like new leaves.

…That one time and no other the okapi came to the stream, and I was the only one to see it.

When I first read that, it took me back to the comfort and magic of solitude that I felt as a kid exploring the woods. It still does. And, that is where the okapi thing comes from.


Lauren J said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'm so psyched that you quoted Barbara Kingsolver. I love her writing, and now feel like I need to pick up Poisonwood Bible again. My favorite of hers is The Beantrees.

Have a great weekend!!!

javajones said...

Ah! Now we know. I feel a strange sense of relief, having my curiosity satisfied.

Joe said...

Oh....I always thought it was shorthand for "O.k.! a pie!" Seeing how delicious pies can be, one would be excited to find one in a lair.

Olga Lucia said...

LOL!!! I love you guys. Soooo much.