You don’t have to be a hunter to be a true outdoors- woman. Take my Mother-in-Law, Dotsy Boineau for example. She was in her late 30’s and though she loved to travel, going to Africa was the last thing on her mind. Her husband, who loved to hunt, wanted to take an African safari and she was reluctant. She agreed only after it was arranged for stops in Egypt and Austria immediately following Africa. To her amazement, day one African Safari, she was hooked and four safaris later, Dotsy was a lady who had experienced adventures most people only dream about. She loved experiencing the thrill of the hunt with her husband and her son, Trippett, Jr. (My future husband!) who was only twelve years old when he went on the first safari. With each safari, their experiences and hunts were those always to be remembered.
Every day on Safari was packed with adventure, beauty, danger, and wonderment. Her fondest memories included her interactions with the villagers. She told me stories such as the one where a female villager walked for hours to get to the camp to retrieve film from a camera that had been used to take a photograph of her. She was worried that her soul had been stolen.
Being 500 miles from civilization didn’t mean they missed important creature comforts and some luxuries as well. Every morning, at four AM sharp, they were awakened with hot tea served on a silver tray. “Harbari Harbari“, the servers called out as they brought them tea and to signal it was time to rise. They dressed, had breakfast and were out on the hunt by five AM.
Approximately 23 men made up the camp each with his own role from trackers, guides, skinners, and cooks. The dinner table was always set with a perfectly pressed damask tablecloth and Dotsy brought an artificial magnolia centerpiece all the way from SC so that they had one to enjoy in Africa. The meals were beautifully prepared from fresh meat from the day’s hunt and was served along with vegetables and fruits.
Outdoor showers and outhouses were set up. Water warmed over the fire pits, poured into bags was hung from a tree and used for showering and was enhanced with a circular cover for privacy. When you pulled the string, the water was released offering a much needed shower. Their soiled clothes from the day’s hunt were set outside their tent that evening and in the morning, they were returned, washed and neatly ironed and folded. You could not be tempted to “tinkle” outside your tent with fear that army ants seeking water would march into camp and awaken you with torturous pain of their venomous bites! The outhouses were strategically located far enough away to prevent this.
One of her funniest stories involved her getting off the plane in Nairobi dressed in a beautiful garnet suit and heels ready to board a second single engine plane that would take them into the bush. The trouble was, her luggage was not on the first plane. She was in Africa with none of her carefully selected hunting clothes! They managed to find a small “department style” store where she was able to get a nightgown, sweats and Batas which were very much like our Keds. With very little else to wear, she managed somehow. (Ok, where was PROIS Hunting Apparel for Women when you needed it)!
Another memory was listening to the first moon landing in 1969 from a BBC radio. Looking up at the deep sky lit up with a big bright moon and thousands of stars in the bush in Africa was a recollection that was most meaningful. July 20, 1969…When the lunar module lands at 4:18 p.m EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remain. Armstrong radios “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” These are words she will never forget sitting under the vast sky and feeling very proud to be an American.
I never get tired of hearing about her adventures and today at the ripe young age of 89, she is active, sharp as a tack, and loves to join us in celebration of our harvests. Her favorite meals are our roasted quail, seared duck breast, and our grilled doves served with stoneground grits! Yes, Mama is a real outdoors- woman as she appreciates everything that the tradition of hunting brings to our lifestyle.