she, nor I, felt a sense of threat or fear as she gazed up at me.
There was only a silent connection between us.
Turning around, she retraced her footsteps and selected a proper patch
of ground in front of us. Casually, as though she were in the company
of old friends, she began the fastidious process of grooming her
splendid coat. Crisp white whiskers flashed in the light as she primped
in the classic feline manner, giving me time to sketch her beauty.
Every sinuous movement became etched into my memory……if only I could
capture it quickly in my sketchbook.
Suddenly, a veil dropped over her luminous eyes. Face drawing tight
with apprehension, the menacing sound of an approaching vehicle revealed
the source of her alarm. As it rolled up beside us, I was transfixed
with the transformation taking place in “my” leopard. Her eyes now
smoldered with a suspicious glint and the instinct to flee flowed
through her, replacing the soft reclining form with one of agitated
steel. She was gone. As quickly and silently as she had come.
Finding it impossible to choose between the attitudes divulged during
our private audience with this royalty of Africa, I have chosen to first
share three of her most memorable moods. Moving from right to left, you
can easily see the progression from a willing accomplice to that of a
wary and dangerous creature. With her image burned into my mind, this
is my initial effort to depict a privileged moment with the most
exquisite of Africa’s gems.