We drove to the airstrip yesterday afternoon. We left early and followed the edge of the water, breathing heady scents of new blossoms on the acacia trees and enjoying the active bird life on the flooded grasslands. We were early at the airstrip so we parked in the shade on a small rise and stood on a fallen tree.
All around us were golden grasslands and tree islands of acacias, sausage trees and llala palms. The horizon a tree line in shades of hazy blue. The airstrip is a cleared strip of land in this sea of golden grass. The first impression of people who arrive here by plane is the warmth of the sun, and the scent of wild sage.
Elephants move slowly between tree islands reminding me of distant sailing ships. Their ears the billowing sails. Their course set along well used paths. Some more are wallowing in mud pools, sloshing and splashing the cool mud over their warm backs. Still more have crossed the water and are grazing on lush green grasses on the other side. Further across a herd of buffalo have moved into a palm island. Their presence heralds lion activity, as the lions follow the buffalo herds and prey on them nightly.
We wait and listen for the small plane, turning and turning on our lookout log, taking in the view. Each time we turn something has changed, emerged, vanished. We know there are lions there somewhere but they are hidden from our view - probably lying flat in island shade, or deep in the yellow grass.
This is how the world made itself - meant itself to be - without all the rattle and clatter of cities and traffic. Bird calls fill the air. The anthill we stand on is a living thing - a hive of industry. Everything in its niche fulfilling its role which we humans have vigorously tried to separated ourselves from.
We strain our ears for the sound of the plane. It comes into view, glinting in the late afternoon sun like an evening star. It looks so small and vulnerable as it circles overhead turning to land. A flying machine - always an awesome thought.
They land neatly, and taxi up the strip - the wind whisking their dust far and away.
People unfold and emerge chattering. The pilot opens the luggage pod and bags are pulled out and retrieved by several hands. We are here to collect a parcel - a food order from town - for ourselves. We are handed the mail bag for Selinda and another parcel for camp.
Guests for the lodge are settled into their awaiting vehicle. We let them leave first to save them riding in our dust. They take the floodplain road and we head straight home to watch the big red sun setting in the purple haze; and the amber moon take up its post in the eastern sky.