For some reason or other, I was reminded of a time in Africa when we were in an enclosure with a lot of lion cubs. They were pretty small, no longer than two foot from nose to the base of their tails. Like all small mammals, they were curious, playful, and cute.
My husband, being forever the soccer fan, found a beat up old ball and started to kick it around. In a few minutes, he was mobbed by about five cubs, who knew a good game when they saw it. They chased the ball back and forth, grabbed it from eachother, tried to guess which way my husband was going to dribble it. The rest of the Pride looked on, not interested enough to move. Just another lazy day in Lionville.
Then it was time for dinner, and bed. A keeper came down, and called the cubs up from the enclosure to the house they stayed in at night. They streamed up the slope, making the oddest, sqeaking, un-lion like sounds. We followed. Our car was in the same direction, and we also wanted to spend as much time as possible with the cubs.
They were solid and their fur was rough. Warm. Their claws were sharp, and their teeth white and long. They were wild animals, to be treated with respect. Soon, they would be large enough to kill any one of us with ease.
Yet, for an hour or so we played in the dust and heat.
I'll always be grateful for the things I learned in Africa.