cronechronicler

Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Journey Into Africa 1994: The Circle of Life

There was a hippo grazing on the lawn at Lake Naivasha
While we breakfasted.   Amazing sight to us, yet untamed
Another had charged and killed a guest a few weeks past.
So began the animal parade of life.

We traveled next to Masai Mara
Game Preserve home to animals large and small.
Game drive in the afternoon an introduction
To the Africa we came to see.

A cheetah seeking prey streaked comet-like before our eyes.
Lions in prides, Mama with her rough and tumble cubs
King of the animals nearby with gaze aloft.
We saw also male lions stalking water buffalo.

Two giraffes  necks intertwined were a-courting. Two elephants engaged in sex
Don’t ask me how. Mama elephants nursed their tiny, hungry off-spring
Officious-looking warthogs entertained trotting through the brush on private missions.
Thomas said they looked like messengers with their radio-antenna tails held aloft.

Vultures circling drew us to fresh kill
Food for meat eaters’ ravenous demands. After dinner
Hyenas and other scavengers appear. Nature’s sanitation crew
Leaves only bones and skulls far-flung on plains.

In the middle of the afternoon it rained
Followed by a rainbow arching high across gray sky.
Next day bright flowers bloomed where once brown grasses grew.
Bow and blossoms attesting to great life circle turning ’round.

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Journey Into Africa 1994: Introducing the Human Characters

My travels in Kenya were characterized by an unexpected collection of people who gave the journey its unique flavor. Our tour group of seven, plus my former Pastor and his wife, was a revelation. I had figured there would be three couples and me. Instead I found myself one of a group of seven women. That was in 1994. Woman’s Lib as it was called back then was beginning to blossom. Maybe there were other female-only tour groups, but I wasn’t aware of any. This one occurred accidentally and I loved it!

Thomas, our guide, was the son of a Samburu hunter who taught him the ancient ways of tracking animals. He was overjoyed with the eight “mamas” he could show his beloved country to. We spent our nights in lodges located on several different game reserves, cocooned in mosquito nets to protect us from malaria. Before daylight and around four o’clock in the afternoon we went out on daily “game drives” in hopes of spotting animals in their habitats during their feeding times. Thomas drove us in a white diesel Toyota minivan with its top cut out so we could stand and get a 360 degree view. We were usually joined by several other groups staying at the lodge also riding in white Toyota open-topped minivans. When we saw  vans parked in a field near the road we knew there had to be animals somewhere. Guides called out to us what they had spotted and we joined the group. The animals were so accustomed to people in  minivans riding around every day they acted like we were just part of the scenery. There is a wonderful cartoon strip on Gary Larson’s Far Side picturing a couple of  minivans driving around and one animal saying to another one, “Convertible! Convertible!”

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Journey Into Africa 1994: Shadows and Reflections

Treetops – Bit of history
In shadow of old British Empire reach.
A King’s daughter was there when she got word
“The King is dead. Long live the Queen”.
She departed the second Queen Elizabeth.

Treetops – A watering hole
Inhabited from time out of mind.
Animal’s stately march to drumbeat of days
Learned before their birth. Nightly
Arrive at watering hole to quench thirst.

Travelers gather at nature’s old outpost
Fenced, high on stilts, safe from any harm.
We spend the night still dressed in our day clothes.
We wait like children expecting Santa Claus
To be awakened when the animals appear.

Before dawn. black night at their backs
Silently for animals so large they move.
Water buffalo circling the pond to drink
Form silhouettes of ancient rituals.
Newly arrived we present guests look on in awe.

Pink dawn fingers begin to part the night.
Shadows merge, become reflections on the pond.
We see more clearly majesty of beasts.
And wonder where we, architects of newer worlds
Fit in the grand scheme of things.

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Journey Into Africa 1994: It All Began With Yes

In the spring of 1993 I was divorced, self-supporting and living alone. A Pastor from my former church had previously taken members of the congregation on a tour of Kenya which appealed to me greatly. I was working at that time to help out with the expenses of my children’s college education and was disappointed not to be able to join the group. Then in 1993 I received a letter from the Pastor inviting me to travel on a “Journey Into Africa” in January 1994. This time I had vacation days available and a small nest egg ear-marked for my old age. I decided that I would rather spend money now to see the wonders of Kenya than spend it on a retirement home in the distant future. I said “Yes”!

It had been twenty years since I last traveled out of the United States and I couldn’t wait to get started on a new adventure. The Pastor’s letter promised we would see:
– The river of crocodiles at your doorstep in Samburu National Reserve
– The elephant families watering below your balcony at midnight at Treetops
– Lion gazing over the vast reaches of the Serengeti in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve
– The snows of Kilimanjaro in the distance of Amboseli NationaL Park
– Hippos wallowing in the mud at Manyara
We saw them all – and much more.

It has now been twenty years since I traveled to Kenya. I have not forgotten those two weeks Kenya inhabited my soul. Kenya and its people, animals and night skies are permanently etched in my senses. The land of Africa is filled with spirit. I am very sure of that.

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Costa Rica Memory

One day on my recent trip to Costa Rica our group stopped for lunch in a small town. After we ate we had free time to wander around the town square and, of course, shop. I’m big on packing everything I expect to need when I travel in a small carry-on bag which allows for no additional items. Therefore, I’m not big on shopping.

I found a shady spot to sit on a park bench in the middle of the square. I looked around me and noticed a white Peace Pole planted in the flower bed across the sidewalk from my bench. That’s lovely, I thought. Soon I saw a young boy riding his bicycle on the sidewalk and smiled at him. He smiled back. In a moment when time seemed to stand still he reached toward me with a flower in his hand. I received the flower with a sense of wonder that this boy and I, and the Peace Pole, were somehow framed in a halo of love. I basked in the afterglow.

When I rejoined my fellow travellers to get back on the bus, I noticed that many of the women held flowers. They were discussing if they should have given him some money in exchange. I think that what was an epiphany for me was a market-place moment for some of them. I felt a little foolish. Love will do that to me. But I still believe that the boy wanted to give and wanted nothing more than for me to receive his gift.

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Homecoming

Traveling includes an inevitable returning.
Feeling I’m back home takes its own sweet time.
Key turns in the lock, door opens to rooms
I know by heart. Suitcase in the hall,
Stuff to unpack I’m too tired to tackle.

Then piles of mail, emails unending, bills to pay
Require attention while my body’s still mending.
I feel enfolded by familiar space, and wait.
My trip was exceptional. I’m so glad I journeyed.
Now I seek peace and time to reflect.

Today is different. I stretch and move slowly
Content to do nothing, no deadlines in sight.
Sensing transition while washing lunch dishes
Absorbed contemplating their primary colors
I found myself lost in thought and back home.

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Costa Rica Trip: Revelation

There is more to write about my recent trip.
Tales of things lost and found and other challenges
I faced. How the level of activity was not “Easy” as described.
But then, when does reality ever imitate our dreams?

The day of travel ready to begin a new adventure
I approached the check-in desk and realized
That the pouch containing Passport and credit card
Was not hanging from its string around my neck.

Sheer incredulity! I told myself “I’m not going after all”.
Calmed down and called Sam, faithful car service guy.
He found my pouch with string now somehow unattached
Lying on car’s floor and brought it back to me.

O.K. Score even. Next up. Paperback I planned to read
Vanished from my seat during pre-flight bathroom break.
Once landed I replaced the loss. Kindle to the rescue.
Two things lost and found. Is this the pattern of my trip?

And so it was. One day touring on the bus my dark glasses
Were recorded as item three in my list of losses.
Finding them was easy. They reappeared when I stood up
To disembark. What is all this telling me?

As days went by sometimes I was what was lost
Walking outside after dark from restaurant to my room.
I met other travel mates who set me on a homeward path.
Maybe being found is what I should focus on.

There were other losses small and large.
Problems faced and answers found. The score
was tied. Only I am not satisfied to travel
Such a road where human cost to me outweighs the benefits.

Another journey spreads before me. Not unrelated
To my travels gone before. I’m one who is merely changing,
Not lost at all. I will find my way with travelers like me
Whose eyes are set on a distance only now appearing.

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Back To Nature

My recent trip to Costa Rica was awesome. It was a multi-learning experience about ecology, agriculture and the world of nature. One day we were immersed in the culture of a pineapple farm in the rain forest near the Atlantic Ocean – in more ways than one. We splashed and bumped along in a drizzle on a muddy road in a tractor-pulled wagon. We stopped for the farmer to uproot a pineapple plant, whip out his machete, dissect the pineapple and teach us its parts and how each functioned. Then he expertly carved the pineapple and passed it around for us to taste. Heavenly. I felt right at home on the farm since my grandfather raised cotton in Alabama and I lived in a farming region in Mississippi as a teenager.

The farmers use only basic tools like the machete, nothing mechanized. No pesticides are used. Cost Rica is the”greenest” country I know. They are very close to using no fossil fuel. The Costa Ricans, or Ticos as they call themselves, live and work with the knowledge of the web of life that is  intertwined  ecologically and agriculturally.

Our guides’ fascination with the plants and animals who live in their country is contagious. After supper  one guide took us out to see the little frogs whose eyes glow red in the dark. On different days we went out on a river in a boat to explore the wild life, including plants, who inhabited the specific area. Our other guide used a green laser to point out birds, butterflies, animals, and plants. I hadn’t realized the complex life of plants. I don’t think my house plants measure up. My favorite sighting was a tree where a dozen howler monkeys “howled.” One was hanging upside-down with his tail curled around a tree limb.

We had been told this was a “beans and rice” country. Not so. I do love beans and rice but we were served much more. The food was delicious, much of it prepared using the various plants we saw growing in the fields. The fish was wonderful. My favorite food was fried plantains. Everywhere we went there was a delightful small dessert – the portion that I can eat guilt free.

The morning we left to fly home I had my own “up close and personal” brush with nature. My hotel room had a separate room for the tub and toilet. The wash basin was just outside its door. While I was brushing my teeth I happened to look down at the floor. Not twelve inches from my foot was a big black creepy crawler at least three inches long who had his tail curled over his back in a double loop and pincher-like front claws. It took my stunned mind a few seconds to register that this was a scorpion. I wanted it to go away. I stomped on the floor, made him move toward the tub and toilet room and shut the door. After I got home I Googled to see if a scorpion’s sting is deadly. It isn’t but I’m glad I didn’t have to learn first hand.

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Time Travel

Today I am packing, long list in hand of things to remember.
Tomorrow I embark on a journey long planned for. Time to get organized.
Yesterday was clock-changing day. Now we get in the morning one hour more.
The calendar announces that in ten days it will be Spring. I wonder why all the fuss.

Days, hours and time we humans invented
To keep track of motions ebbing and flowing
That chart our impressions that somewhere is forward
And another-where is backward. We think we’re in charge.

Soon I’ll be sitting on a veranda where a volcano takes center stage.
Not far is a river where crocodiles live. Bright birds flash their feathers
In tropical splendor.The glittering beaches beside ancient waters beckon to me.
Here is time kept not with clocks or with calendars. Endless todays promise life is free.

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Writing 201: Poetry – Ode – To A Passport

You are my magic carpet, my open sesame.
You lend wings to soar to cities only dreamed about.
You hold keys to doors of other cultures.
Oh, small book, you spread a wide new world before my eyes.

Within your pages are the records
Of all the places I have visited abroad.
You hold records also of my different names and addresses
As I’ve traversed my inner landscape and learned how to be free.

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