en el parque

April 1, 2013

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In the country of pampas and araucaria, Patagonia . . . . here at last.

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Here in the Argentine area of Patagonia in San Carlos de Bariloche in the foothills of the Andes is the oldest national park in Argentina – Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi – 2 million acres of three zonal types of vegetation. Today, March 31st, we spent time in the lower reaches of the hills  (Andino-Patagonico). Nahuel Huapi comes from the Mapuche for jaguar island. Many lakes and islands are encompassed within the parque with the largest, Lago Nahuel Huapi, a water body of nearly 850 square kilometres whose seven long arms reach deep into the forests of native beech Coihué (Nothofagus dombeyi) and deciduous beech, Lenga, (Nothofagus pumilio), pines and cypress. Entering these cathedrals of vegetation is awe inspiring. The eerie sound that emanates from the branches and canopies weaving around in the breeze overhead sounds like  the sound effect from a horror film – the squeaky door announcing the arrival of the villain.!

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Thick underplanting of Chusquea gigantea, another native, adds to the cinematic character of the forest. Very graphic in texture, whether at the end of its life or regenerating in green clumps. And elegant in form as the canes bend gracefully over pathways.

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Certain view points high above the lake offer far-reaching panoramas of the snow-capped mountain range . . . .

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. . whilst at close quarters flashes of exotic colour from other natives such as Embothrium coccineum  – weird and wonderful tubular flower heads  – and the species moschata rose that proliferates in the sunny open clearings.

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The myrtles are in flower – sweetly scented  clusters of small, perfectly rounded cups of waxy white blooms – but it is the form of the stems and the texture of the soft cinnamon bark that takes the eye.. . .

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. . .  late summer effects of ‘things that slip to silence one by one’.

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March days return with their covert light,
and huge fish swim through the sky,
vague earthly vapours progress in secret,
things slip to silence one by one.
Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,
you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,
grey lurchings of the ship of winter
to the form that love carved in the guitar.
O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,
dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,
to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,
so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,
the sea forget its cargoes and rages,
and the world fall into darkness’s nets. Neruda   March Days

9 Responses to “en el parque”

  1. anny evason Says:

    jolly interesting, the myrtles look huge. How do the chusqua die back? is that a natural seasonal occurence? Or due to draught? And is the climate mediterranean or temperate there?

  2. Adam Says:

    Wow… what a treat to see all those lovely plants you’ve mentioned in their own environment I’ve grown a few Chusqea’s myself so to see them au naturel is rather exciting.

  3. Tom Says:

    ‘Cathedrals’ is well put. Those trees as vast! What sort of age might they be?

    Cinammon bark like the coat of a mangy dog. Eerily animated.

    What an amazing array of flora! Temperate but so very different, as I recall it. Do you remember those stealthy, abseiling caterpillars?

    Even translated his language has so much movement.

    Thanks for an awe-filled (I can’t use ‘awful’ as Melville once did) 10 minutes. A little jealous, though grateful that summer is approaching here, rather than waning.

  4. Sinclair 3168 Says:

    I don’t remember the abseiling caterpillars, shame. Those eerie squeaky door sounds I’ll never forget however, quite terrifying. The myrtle branches look like antlers to me. A special walk, glad we veered off piste to that bay.

  5. […] we walked up through forest of ghostly dead bamboo down below and sky-scraping bony trees that creaked and moaned up high like doors in a ghost […]

  6. […] ground on either side. Sounds from the overhead swaying branches and foliage reminded me of a similar walk through Nothofagus woods on the other side of the world . . .  . . […]

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