I have spent the past two months in the US, returning from Gabon in mid-April to Minnesota, traveling for art shows in Atlanta, Georgia, Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. I joined Lisa for a brief visit with friends in Washington, D.C. before spending the first two weeks of June at the family cabin on Big Sand Lake in northwest Minnesota. Carla (remember “surreal night on N’Dogo lagoon?”) joined us with Nico, our first papillon, now 13 years old.
Today, I am back in Gamba. A week has gone by since my return. It is now the dry season, with milder temperatures, hazy diffused skies, and noticeably less humidity than March and April. My garden suffered in my absence, overgrown with weeds choking the remaining parched basil, peppers and passion fruit vines. The melons have disappeared, vines and all, likely uprooted by elephants. So I have replanted mint and rosemary, onions and basil, spinach, collards and cilantro. Daily watering will be crucial to success. As will some kind of barrier to thwart the elephants. Last night we had friends for dinner, and were pleased by the appearance of a lone elephant passing by the garden after dark. We could hear the low guttural rumbling as it stopped for greens along the drive, then watched as he padded silently through camp, at times a silhouette before a streetlamp, later a black shadow melting into the murky gray landscape of the night. I am reminded of a friend I met at the Edina Art Fair in Minnesota in early June. Eight and one-half year old Katie was drawn to my photographs of elephants, and had produced a haiku in her second-grade class at Creek Valley Elementary school in Edina. She returned the next day with mother, Heidi, to show me her creation:
Somehow, I think the hippopotamus and crocodile, python and gorilla, buffalo, leopard, and sititunga, are lining up for a chance to star in Katie’s imagination.
Sunday afternoon Lisa and I went canoeing on Lake Yenzi. Once out of the breeze along the distant shore, it was peaceful to float among the lilies. Pairs of grey parrots crossed over the lake, their distinctive conversation magnified off the surface of the water. An African Jacana pranced across the lilies on long legs and even longer toes, the chestnut body and white neck standing out against a thousand shades of green. African darters skimmed low above the water, and several ibis noisily jabbered their way into the lakeside trees for to roost. Trying out my new fishing rod, I lobbed a whole assortment of spoons and rapalas into the waters, hoping not to draw the attention of any crocodiles that might be watching, but failed to score any strikes. Returning at sunset, we enjoyed a dinner of fried fish, our fall-back dinner plan luckily purchased at the market in Plaine on Saturday.