Saturday, 16 February 2013

Lantana Rivers

The one that caught us. A nagging board has sent us to a ‘mirador’, to an overlook. Standing on top of a clutch of lobster claws, rock hoodoos, overlooking a soft rock canyon, when the first ice pellet strikes, followed very swiftly by a volley that soon starts to settle on the ground, turning the dun desert to a grubby mush. We’re joined by a couple of poncho-less local moto riders, who grab thatch grasses to cover their saddles and try to gather shelter in an abandoned hut, whilst we all watch a circus spectacle.  A bus conductor clambering up on to his icy roof to close the roof lights. This one’s from the early wet season, and so is short lived. The storm moves off, heading across the ranges, we all continue on our differing ways. The thunder travelling obliquely to our road, we get to watch the effects of the fallout. A torrent surges off a rock cut, a waterspout erupts from a crevice, the roadside gutter a torment of asphalted debris. Our paths continue to diverge, the crumps clinging to the high tops, whilst we drop into to a wide strath, a flat bottomed valley that’s speckled with grazing llamas. All the arroyos that we cross are bone dry as the effects have still to arrive. Then from the struck hillside, a bore of scum and froth worms across the gentle incline. A bullnose of scud pink silt laden water is braiding towards us. Like raindrops running down a windscreen, they split and merge, some racing, some making slow progress towards the wind rippled, dry stream bed and a pass under the road. A few paces behind the dozing front, a reef of small standing waves have built up, pushing the creeping grub onward.

There’s an element of fantastical fiction about watching this
apparently animate being, moving with purpose and unstoppable determination. The lather of suds, the ichor of rust, the relentless determination, it comes straight from the special effects studio of a black and white era: ‘Dr Who’.

A living being that tomorrow will be but a dead, damp patch of sand. A riverlet, a mineral conveyor belt that’s mining a mountain down to the ocean. Like Lantana flowers, here today, gone tomorrow. Only to be awoken by the next storm.