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Jungle Fever

June 2, 2011

When the Iowa farm boys returned from the War in the Pacific, they regaled friends and family with incredible tales of exotic places – mountains that fell to the sea, azure blue lagoons and exotic flora.

Guam is no exception.  Square in the tropics, its hillsides are covered with life.

Unlike Key West, Guam came by her plant life honestly – most everything here is indigenous.  According to the US weather service, the island receives between seven and eight feet (yes, feet) of rain per year.  For northerners, this is equivalent to 70 feet of snow.  One does not seek to master the jungle – one merely keeps it at bay in select areas for brief intervals.

I spent my summers under the maples of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in what’s known as a climax hardwood forest.  The canopy, a hundred feet overhead, created a dark green cathedral paying homage to life, the wilderness and everything.  I felt small yet safe under that canopy – and the feeling returned walking a path far from shore.

It’s the plethora of palms and the enormity of banana leaves which set this primeval scene apart.

As a kid, we’d go exploring backcountry as this – locals call it booniestomping.  We’d travel through the forest on trails so dark we’d have to turn on our motorcycle headlights, even though we were under midday sun.  I recall vividly traversing the dark of the Fox River Valley, only to emerge to blinding bright sun on the edge of Canoe Lake…we did the same a world away.

Some people find solace on the beach – I find it under a canopy of life.   Time spent here is rejuvenating, and it’s hard to leave.

Jungle fever, indeed.

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