New Moniker for Writing Guild

Kathie Marshall

At its last meeting, the former Writing Guild decided to discard the formal ‘guild’ designation and voted on a new catchy name: Ranch Writers. If you are interested in exploring your creativity with the written word, consider joining this fun and instructional writing group by contacting Kathie Marshall at [email protected]. Monthly meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. in the La Vista Room of the La Hacienda Club. Members are encouraged to read their stories aloud to the group each month. If you feel unsure of a topic to write about and need inspiration, then members can decide on a prompt word that can be used to stir your creative juices. In addition to the readings, the group will conduct research on various writing topics and fun activities to help improve your writing.

Below is a writing sample excerpt based on the prompt “Interesting Animal Encounters.”


By Kathie Marshall

Hannah awoke before dawn to an anthem of birds, insects and whatever else that was lurking in the subtropical forest surrounding their camp. It had been a steamy, miserable night in their squalid little hut. She and her husband, David, had arrived yesterday from Kathmandu via car, oxcart, and rickety dugout canoes, crossing crocodile infested rivers for their safari in The Royal Chitwan Game Preserve that was home to the endangered one-horned rhinos and the elusive Bengal tiger.

Now at daybreak, they were to embark upon their rhino safari, which required them to travel from their forest camp to the Terai Durai savannah on the back of elephants, led by a Nepali mahout and the nature guide. It was Hannah’s first time on the back of an elephant, or to be more precise, on a box-like seat that was strapped around its impressive girth. Conveniently, there was an elephant embark port, which consisted of a ladder with a landing that allowed one to swing onto the wide back of the elephant and into the box. Hannah and David managed to hoist themselves into the box without incident. However, the mahouts were far nimbler, as they perched on a saddle blanket near the neck of the elephant. As they started their journey through the Sal tree forest, Hannah’s eyes were focused on the skinny brown legs of her mahout. His bare feet were nestled at the back of the elephant’s ears and by pressing his feet on either the left or right ear, the elephant was guided in the proper direction. As they traveled, the forest thinned and was replaced by scrub brush and small spindly trees. They soon discovered that elephants are nature’s most impressive 4-wheel drive transports. As they wandered through the new growth forest, the elephants, instead of stepping around the trees, ploughed right into them knocking the branches to the side, and then lumbered on. They cared little that their passengers were being whipped in the face and body by sharp branches. After jostling on the back of an elephant for quite a while, they came to a clearing, surrounded by tall grasses. Looking off in the distance, they spotted the infamous one- horned rhino that was lolling around in a murky, watering hole. Their guide instructed them to disembark and walk to a closer vantage point to photograph the rhino. David was excited and fumbled around in his camera bag, grabbing his telephoto lens. The angle and light were perfect—the rhino was knee-deep in the water and his enormous head was raised, so the mighty one horn was easily visible. David went through an entire roll of film to get the right shot. Off to the side, while David and Hannah had their eye on the prize, their guide was scanning their surroundings.

“Look!” he whispered excitedly. He pointed to an area at the edge of the wallow where they spotted another rhino, partly hidden by the tall reeds. As they turned to look, the rhino cocked his head, turned to face them, flared his hare-like ears and snorted.

“Run!” the guide said with discernable panic in his voice.