by the lagoon – a post for myself
August 31, 2013
Small jetties stretch into Bahia Redondo of Lago Argentina laying west of the centre of El Calafate. The town is small in relation to the size of the lago – and nowhere near as interesting but then it doesn’t purport to be anything but a base for visitors exploring the glaciers. I’ve looked at these images many times and resisted using them in a post mainly as I have a feeling that pics are done and dusted when added to the narrative . . . don’t want to let these go . . .
. . . Laguna Nimez and Laguna Secondaria gently embrace the marshland and the dune landscape of the nature reserve in an organic formation and, in quiet contrast, to the urban grid of the paths, roads and the geometric building mass of the town. We came across this young lad smothered in a patch of anthemis covering land destined for development . . . .
. . . and then immersed ourselves in the wetland area – with these larger inhabitants.
Typical vegetation of Berberis heterophyllus and ‘neneo’ Mulinum spinosum. The small furry foliage of Senecio patagonicus forms the ground cover. El Calafate was named after the berberis (calafate) bush – the landmark plant where the stage coach stopped.
Calafate puro or jam is totally delicious and makes a good ingredient for ice cream. Song birds and small rodents feed on the berries too. So bog standard berberis that we use freely in supermarket planting schemes has, after all, a more personal quality. Good.
Without resorting to lists – Snipe, Chilean flamingoes and black necked swans pad about and dip their beaks and necks into this watery ecosystem and the rush bird is also active within the reeds. Finches, sparrows, wrens and mockingbirds find protection amongst the calafate bushes. It is a list of course.
Rather out of focus but fitting in with the colour background is a long tailed meadowlark. A pair of young buzzards scan the ground for promising food. Other things fly here . . .
. . and early snow cover sits on the peaks in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the north.
Hummingbirds and blackbirds and two great poets. Poems to read and absorb in tough times.
And then there was St Kevin and the blackbird.
The saint is kneeling, arms stretched out, inside
His cell, but the cell is narrow, so
One turned-up palm is out the window, stiff
As a crossbeam, when a blackbird lands
and Lays in it and settles down to nest.
Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked
Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked
Into the network of eternal life,
Is moved to pity: now he must hold his hand
Like a branch out in the sun and rain for weeks
Until the young are hatched and fledged and flown.
And since the whole thing’s imagined anyhow,
Imagine being Kevin. Which is he?
Self-forgetful or in agony all the time
From the neck on out down through his hurting forearms?
Are his fingers sleeping? Does he still feel his knees?
Or has the shut-eyed blank of underearth
Crept up through him? Is there distance in his head?
Alone and mirrored clear in love’s deep river,
‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays,
A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name.
Seamus Heaney St Kevin and the blackbird
is a water-spark,
an incandescent drip
the hummingbird is
in the air,
a body of pollen,
or hot coal,
I ask you:
What is your substance?
Perhaps during the blind age
of the Deluge,
when the rose
in an anthracite fist,
and metals matriculated
each one in
a secret gallery
from a wounded reptile
some fragment rolled,
a golden atom,
the last cosmic scale,
a drop of terrestrial fire
suspending your splendor,
on a nut,
fit into a diminutive blossom;
you are an arrow,
honey’s vibrato, pollen’s ray;
you are so stouthearted–
with his black plumage
does not daunt you:
a light within the light,
air within the air.
Wrapped in your wings,
you penetrate the sheath
of a quivering flower,
that her nuptial honey
may take off your head!
From scarlet to dusty gold,
to yellow flames,
to the rare
to the orange and black velvet
of our girdle gilded by sunflowers,
to the sketch
little supreme being,
you are a miracle,
from torrid California
to Patagonia’s whistling,
You are a sun-seed,
a petal of silenced nations,
of buried blood,
of an ancient heart,
submerged. Pablo Neruda Ode to the Humminbird