Tag Archives: The Broken Road

Marginalia, no.326

I gazed at her with the reverence of an ornithologist at the glimpse of an Auckland Island merganser.

~ Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Broken Road

In the nineteenth century, when Europeans and other mammals tried to settle the Auckland Islands, the local mergansers showed the world that they would not give up their roosting grounds without a fight. Rather than fly off when threatened, as any bird might do who was used to the predatory habits of mammals, they scurried along and made a stand at the nearest pile of rocks. History teaches us that valiant actors of this sort are generally honored, as the Auckland Island merganser was, by the tribute of total extinction.

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I wrote a brief appreciation of Patrick Leigh Fermor which was published over at The Dabbler today. The posthumous third volume of Fermor’s trilogy (begun with the marvelous A Time of Gifts) is out now in the UK and due to arrive in the states early next year.

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