Sweet indulgence after a walk from the vehicle that had stretched through the morning and past midday.
As one leaves the wilderness the blemishes made by people and their doings will slowly begin to appear and the richness of the bush will be diluted. But until that happens, there is still much to enjoy. With the going relatively easy along our old tracks and the pace slowed by reluctance, there is time for such exploration of those “wonder what’s down there” spots that were passed on the way in.
I especially love those check-it-out strolls around the camp area on the mornings or afternoons when there is no urgency to get going. In the afternoons the type of bush, the proximity of water, the sounds, the smells, the signs of predators and ungulates hint at what might be expected during the night, and gives a “feel” for the status quo of the place. The mornings show (some) of what one had missed during the hours of darkness – tracks, droppings, urine patches, marks on trees that had not been there in the afternoon.
Often neither the afternoons nor the mornings offer anything exciting, but then there are always the plants and the insects. I don’t know them as well as I do the animals and I don’t know either nearly as well as I would like to, but their variety and abundance is astonishing and they are fascinating to watch, even though, through my ignorance, I probably miss most of what is going on.
Plants and insects, especially the latter because they are small, tend to go largely unnoticed for most visitors to wilderness areas. They tend to disappear into “the scenery.” But in reality, plants and insects hold fascinating secrets that would fill many volumes. For me, just being aware of the richness of their worlds is humbling.
Take just for example anthills, of which one might pass hundreds, even thousands on a journey, even along main roads. Their outward simplicity belies the complexity of their construction so that they ventilate and keep cool the vast labyrinths that permeate them and the earth below them, and the exemplary (to us humans) refinement of their occupants, who, without leaders, divide labour, cooperate and work tirelessly and efficiently to sustain millions of individuals and ensure the survival of their society and their species. To stand beside one and, without being able to see, but being aware of, albeit without fully understanding what is happening right next to you is an enriching experience.
The same is true for so many other insects, and plants, of whose world we mostly understand very little.