Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shadows of the Serengeti

Many years ago, while recuperating from surgery, I had the pleasure of having a roommate in the hospital who had just returned from being on safari in Africa. Even as someone who, at that point, had never even traveled farther east than Lookout Mountain in Georgia, I didn't find this terribly extraordinary until I learned that my roommate - in contrast to my young age of 35, had gone on this trip as a gift from her husband for her 75th birthday, two years earlier! It was an amazing hospital stay, made all the much more pleasant by her delightful way of relating the details. It left me with visions of the Serengeti plains, herds of wildebeest and zebras disturbed by a pack of hyenas or a pride of lions on the hunt, gazelles leaping across the grasslands, and myriad other creatures in their ongoing struggle for survival in the often harsh environs of these endless plains.

Since then I've had the opportunity to learn a great deal more about the region from friends, coworkers, and neighbors who have had the opportunity to visit the many conservation areas, game reserves, and other wonders of this region of Africa. Classified as a unique geographical ecosystem, the Serengeti covers over 12,000 miles of grassland, swamps, rock outcroppings (known locally as kopjes), and ancient volcanic calderas. With Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak in the distance to the northeast, and Lake Victoria, the world's second largest freshwater lake to the north of Tanzania and to the west of Kenya, the landscape in and around the Serengeti is easily some of the most magnificent in the world.

Wildlife abounds - home to 364 species of mammals and 1108 species of birds, and supporting 130 amphibian and over 275 reptile species, the region is home to the largest seasonal migration of mammals, and estimates place the number of animals in the region at over 4 million!

The flora of the region is no less spectacular than the wildlife. Although the acacia trees that dot the plains are probably the most recognizable of the region's plant life, an estimated 1000 different species of plant life in the form of trees, grasses, wildflowers, and other flora combine to create a nearly unchanged environment that has sustained life in the area for millions of years.

I must admit, going on safari definitely has its appeal for me! My bucket list seems to get longer and longer :) Hopefully someday.

Maybe it's because it's just so different from life in other areas of the world, but the exotic and untamed magic of these safari lands creates a wealth of ideas and themes for everything from home decor, to art, to fashion and jewelry. I hope you'll be as captivated as I was by these safari themed items shared here today!

In case I haven't fully set the mood of life on the Serengeti, I think this stunning and almost surreal photo print of Sunset, Nightfall Over Amboseli by Kathryn Hansen (artbykat) will definitely finish the job... The signature acacia tree framed by the brilliant orange, gold, and red hues of the last rays of light create a magic view of nightfall on the Serengeti. I believe that is the base of Kilimanjaro in the background... simply breathtaking, isn't it?

Serengeti Suite is the title of this fine art print of a majestic lion by James Lawler from shoutwithjoy. Did you know that the African lion is the only "cat" to live in groups? It's true... and these groups, called prides, often are comprised of up to three male lions and ten lionesses. The territory "owned" by a pride often covers upwards of 100 square miles of grasslands or open woodlands. It's almost hard to believe that a creature as regal looking as this can be such a ferocious predator.

One of the only animals that could survive an attack by a pride of lions is a full grown elephant. My own experience with elephants is limited to feeding and riding one prior to a circus showing as a child, but I've watched enough documentaries about these creatures to know that I probably wouldn't want to get one mad at me!  I'll bet you didn't know that African elephants have nearly 100,000 different muscles in just their trunks! After 22 month long pregnancies, you can also understand why female elephants (called cows) are protective of their newborns (called calves). Although, after birthing a two hundred pound baby, I think I'd be ready to call it quits. This lovely throw pillow cover  from VeeDubz features an elephant calf with its parent and would make a beautiful accent for your safari themed room!

DesignerArt4U is one of those underdiscovered shops on Etsy, and with exotic and unique pieces like this African Safari Lamp, I seriously can't imagine why! You have to stop by and check out some of the fun, funky, and unique lamps they offer... I love the wild feel of this piece!

Share your love of wildlife and your special love of African animals with these darling African Safari Blank Note Cards from the openheartproject. The full set of four cards features a pair of zebras (shown below) as well as a baby baboon, a giraffe, and a pair of elephants. (Wonder where they got those striped pajammy's from?)

I love masks as wall art and this papier mache zebra mask from PineywoodCrafts was a perfect piece for today's feature. While the zebra version was my personal favorite, they offer a variety of other wild animals masks that would be perfect alone or as a grouping.

The versatility of safari themes certainly doesn't end with art or home decor. I found a number of accessories and jewelry pieces that exemplify the theme that I'm happy to share with you here.

Handcrafted from an upcycled brown and tan leather jacket, this versatile bag from OregonLynne has multiple pockets making it perfect for use as a purse, diaper bag, or equipment bag for your away from home crafting. The embroidery features a beautiful Serengeti-like scene with all sorts of animal life. One of a kind and exquisitely functional!

Little ladies love anything furry or simply anything that reminds them of anything furry! With that in mind, this Safari Cheetah print hair bow from turquoiseangels is sure to be a hit with your little one. And why not purchase a similar one in a leopard or zebra print for you to wear on those mommy-daughter look-alike days?  How fun would that be for the both of you?

I did a quick stop by my shop, MysticWynd, for this exotic African Antelope Necklace with Exotic Wood Beads. Like my description says... "Visions of an African Shaman in a tribal antelope mask standing in front of a campfire flashed thru my mind as I began to design this pendant." The necklace itself features exotic Patikan wood beads, cocoa wood, and gold plated accents. Gorgeous, if I do say so myself!

Where would you find a zebra, tiger, and giraffe within millimeters of each other?  On this Kilimanjaro Nugget Lampwork Bead Bracelet from PattyLakinsmith, of course.  Of course, Patty's alter-ego, Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke would be wearing it already and sipping wine as the sun set in the Ngong Hills if the storyline in the description wasn't a fun little piece of fiction , but it isn't - so snap up this beauty from her Primitive Directions series and create your own daydream of safari fun!

The last item on my shopping trip is this Handpainted Safari Giraffe Earring Set from Domante. Hand sculpted and painted, these darling giraffe earrings are not only adorable, but because they are made to order, you can request changes to colors and sizes to suit your needs!

Enjoy! (And tell me what YOUR favorite is, cuz I love them all, so I'm totally useless on this one!)



Patty said...

Karen, what an honor to be featured in your beautifully written post! Thank you so much. Your blog is fabulous from inception to finish.

I have to say that my favorites are the lamp and the sunset. I hope to see it myself some day, in person.

Knitful Dezigns said...

How lovely :) The pictures are so so so gorgeous <3 I love each and every one of them...

My favorite item though i must say are the hand painted giraffe earrings! BEAUTIFUL

Jenny said...

Thanks for sharing those! I've always loved African wildlife and used to dream of moving there to study chimpanzees (although that dream shifted when I read more on the realities of the field researcher's life) Still, I'm a sucker for a nice giraffe :)

Sesenarts said...

What a lovely post. I really feel that you are being 'lead in a direction'. Make sure you make the journey sooner rather than later. We always tend to put off our 'bucket list' items for later!

Kathryn Hansen said...

Thanks so much for including my photo in your wonderful post! And put Africa at the top of your bucketlist because that trip is so freakin' awesome and life changing...you'll be so happy you did it!

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