I recently signed up for an international walkathon organized by the folks at Automattic. Their intention was to get WordPress bloggers all over the world off their duffs and in motion during a free moment between the fourth and tenth of April. The initiative was not only a good excuse to get out of the office, but also a splendid opportunity to share experiences with WordPress fans from all over the world, as participating bloggers were asked to post a report about their own 5k experience in their blog sites.
I decided to make my 5k+ trek in a nature reserve near Zaragoza created to protect what is known in Aragonese as a “galacho”.
In English, a galacho is called an ox-bow lake―a wetland formed when a bend in a river silts up and becomes its own little ecosystem. These are temporary bodies of water caused by lateral stream erosion. When the silting process is complete (normally a question of several hundred years), an ox-bow lake dries up and is replaced by new forest growth. I understand that in Australia an ox-bow lake is referred to as a billabong. As a professional translator, I’d love to know what it is called in the languages of other WordPress 5k participants.
The Galacho of La Alafranca, near Saragossa, the capital of Aragon, is a key point in the migration route of numerous bird species that winter in Africa and return to Europe to raise their young. Hundreds of species nest in Aragon or make rest stops along the banks of the Ebro River as they migrate to destinations further north. It is the perfect spot to watch red kites perform an aerial ballet complete with guest appearances by the local storks.
My husband and I had the good fortune of being the only people who showed up for the earliest nature tour offered by the Centro de Interpretación de la Naturaleza de los Galachos de la Alfranca. We set out from the center with our personal guide equipped with binoculars in hope of seeing some of the new arrivals. Thanks for the push, Automattic! Our 5k through the reserve was a fantastic experience. As we walked along, we saw purple and grey herons, barn swallows, swifts, hoopoes, sandpipers, moorhens, and red and black kites. The path divided two worlds: to our right, the fens and bracken of the ox-bow lake were filled with birdsong; to the left, cultivated fields dotted with stands of pine and poplar trees reminiscent of Goya paintings stretched out toward the nearest village.
The natural cycles of microclimates such as the Galacho of La Alafranca effect the migration habits of wildlife populations throughout the Iberian Peninsula, but climate change is altering their routes and their breeding places as well. According to the website Iberianature, butterflies like the Monarch are now being spotted as far north as the delta of the Ebro River. Hoopoes are now wintering in Catalonia rather than migrating further south. Luckily, these creatures have their own GPS for seeking out new safe havens. It’s up to us to preserve resting and nesting areas along their traditional migration routes.
As we marveled at the newly arrived swallows swooping overhead, I thought about other WordPress bloggers following their own routes and a Robert Louis Stevenson poem came to mind:
Swallows travel to and fro,
And the great winds come and go,
And the steady breezes blow,
Bearing perfume, bearing love.
Breezes hasten, swallows fly,
Towered clouds forever ply,
And at noonday, you and I
See the same sunshine above.
Dew and rain fall everywhere,
Harvests ripen, flowers are fair,
And the whole round earth is bare
To the moonshine and the sun;
And the live air, fanned with wings,
Bright with breeze and sunshine, brings
Into contact distant things,
And makes all the countries one.
Let us wander where we will,
Something kindred greets us still;
Something seen on vale or hill
Falls familiar on the heart;
So, at scent or sound or sight,
Severed souls by day and night
Tremble with the same delight –
Tremble, half the world apart.
I hope everyone participating in the Automattic WP 5k had an equally wonderful day. Cheers to you all!