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Island Lunch

Crepuscular sheaves of shrivelight pierce the canopy of the leadwoods, littering the island floor with spashings and dashings of sun, mottled and sprottled like the spots of a leopard. It’s approaching noon and on the sand below stands a lone umbrella, awning a table set for two, green camp chairs looking across the Zambezi to the hazy skein of the distant escarpment.

The edge of the white tablecloth flutters in the gentle breeze as a fish eagle surveys his riverine demesne from a high thermal, no doubt scouting for his own lunch. We are waiting for guests to arrive from a morning of casting for an elusive tiger; and the river continues to slide by, hemming the sandbank with gentle lap and eddy – lulling an unbroken peace at the edge of the world. No vehicles. No boats – other than the one bearing our expected two, which has drawn up with a crunch to the near bank to allow easy alighting. The only sound a murmured conversation, the clink of knives and forks, ice in a glass and the hiss of meat on the braai. An egret stilts through the shallows, reflection blurring momentarily with that of the umbrella. Utter calm, complete privacy in true Zambezi style.

Words and image: Tara Vivian-Neal