Gabon calling, Libreville to be exact. An opportunity to go off the beaten path. Extra rooms, a mango tree, a temporary resident who writes weekly updates to his long contact list, about the world he inhabits right now. Africa is on the list, but not specifically Gabon, though now that we know, French speaking West Africa is demanding attention. Attention grabbed by surfing hippos, primeval rainforest and national parks that potentially rival those in Kenya, Tanzania or Botswana. Maybe Gabon because it is less known or because it perhaps could provide tourism in a less structured form; maybe because it could be a little precarious. Suddenly Gabon is igniting my wanderlust.
I hiked the trail with a bunch of naturalists. Naturalists who share my genes and who gently share their knowledge and genuine woods worship. They know lichen, moss, sand cranes, bugs, mushrooms, rocks and rivers. They know deer prints, poison ivy and the importance of a longish stop for trail lunch to refuel. For them a foot dunk in an icy river is more than a cool down, it is a brave trail ritual. The Naturalists make the importance of this place understood and make us appreciate its wild generosity, even though we innately know this already. We celebrate a hike well done with alert minds, challenged limbs and ice-cold beer out of the cooler at the trail head, and preliminary chatter of the next hike.
The loon came overnight, reversing his springtime path. He glides low in the water, with his long neck and sharp beak, dwarfing the nearby mallards. For a week he will rest on our Lake before heading south to his far away winter home. A week of lukewarm sun, chilled deep dives and lots of shore admirers. Knowing he will for certain come back a few weeks after the ice goes out in April gives me added hope that the winter will be snowy, but quick, and that the loon’s return trip north is not so impossibly far away.