by the lagoon – a post for myself

August 31, 2013

14lago argentina 1

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 . . .

1ago argentina

. . . 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  . . . .

2lago argentina 2

2.5calafate

. . . and then immersed ourselves in the wetland area  – with these larger inhabitants.

3marsh

4horses

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.

5berberis + mulinum

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.

calafate puro 2

5.5nimez lagoon 4

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.

6nimez lagoon 5

7lago birds

8bird

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 . . .

9birds 3

10nimez lagoon 1

. .   and early snow  cover sits on the peaks in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the north.

11nimez lagoon 2

12nimez lagoon 3

Hummingbirds and blackbirds and two great poets. Poems to read and absorb in tough times.

13lago argentina 3

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

The hummingbird
in flight
is a water-spark,
an incandescent drip
of American
fire,
the jungle’s
flaming resume,
a heavenly,
precise
rainbow:
the hummingbird is
an arc,
a golden
thread,
a green
bonfire!

Oh
tiny
living
lightning,
when
you hover
in the air,
you are
a body of pollen,
a feather
or hot coal,
I ask you:
What is your substance?
Perhaps during the blind age
of the Deluge,
within fertility’s
mud,
when the rose
crystallized
in an anthracite fist,
and metals matriculated
each one in
a secret gallery
perhaps then
from a wounded reptile
some fragment rolled,
a golden atom,
the last cosmic scale,
a drop of terrestrial fire
took flight,
suspending your splendor,
your iridescent,
swift sapphire.

You doze
on a nut,
fit into a diminutive blossom;
you are an arrow,
a pattern,
a coat-of-arms,
honey’s vibrato, pollen’s ray;
you are so stouthearted–
the falcon
with his black plumage
does not daunt you:
you pirouette,
a light within the light,
air within the air.
Wrapped in your wings,
you penetrate the sheath
of a quivering flower,
not fearing
that her nuptial honey
may take off your head!

From scarlet to dusty gold,

to yellow flames,
to the rare
ashen emerald,
to the orange and black velvet
of our girdle gilded by sunflowers,
to the sketch
like
amber thorns,
your Epiphany,
little supreme being,
you are a miracle,
shimmering
from torrid California
to Patagonia’s whistling,
bitter wind.
You are a sun-seed,
plumed
fire,
a miniature
flag
in flight,
a petal of silenced nations,
a syllable
of buried blood,
a feather
of an ancient heart,
submerged. Pablo Neruda  Ode to the Humminbird

6 Responses to “by the lagoon – a post for myself”

  1. Sinclair 3168 Says:

    Wonderful memories, like a breath of fresh air. I’m glad you did this post. Calafate on toast looks delicious, wish I bought some now to make ice cream with too.

  2. Mike Says:

    Beautiful, and a timely tribute to Heaney.

  3. Heidi Says:

    very glad you shared, stunning


  4. Some really interesting pictures there and I love the fitting Heaney tribute. Here are some photos I took of the area recently, I didn’t capture the beautiful wildlife that you did! http://rowenacrowley.com/2013/08/23/patagonia-argentina/


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