Marveling at the Magnitude of Victoria Falls

from Livingston, Zambia.

Spending time in wild places is critical to filling my reserves of resilience. Redwoods, beaches and rainforests help me decompress, feel grounded, find connection to something outside of myself. I’ve come to Zambia to see Victoria Falls, the largest waterfalls in the world, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

The traditional name for Victoria Falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya, which translates to “the smoke that thunders.” As the water falls into the gorge, mist and spray rises up, more than 100 feet higher than the top of the falls, giving the appearance that smoke is rising out of a deep hole in the earth. You can see this smoke from miles away.

Mesmerized by the falls, I’m reminded of this quote by Rachel Carson: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

And then my son tells me, out of the blue, that 59 million years ago, people-sized penguins existed. “Actually, they were 7 feet tall,” he says, correcting himself. And giant sloths, too, he adds, knowing that I love sloths.

There’s something about these falls that makes us both think big—big and wild and wonderful. The sound of the water pounding rings in my ears for the rest of the day.