Lake Cerknica was (besides Lake Kočevje, of course :-)) my first thought whenever I planned a weekend getaway or an afternoon trip to the countryside in my student years. The lake that sometimes is and sometimes isn't impressed me in every season and in its every colour and shape. Probably also because of the witch Uršula of the Slivnica mountain, cooking and practising sorcery however she pleases :).
It has remained one of my favourite places for trips and taking photos. In winter, when it freezes over, in summer when it's dry and gives us the impression of being on the moon, when it’s covered in blossoming meadows and also when it becomes the largest lake in Slovenia. It deserves our undivided attention. The more we return to the lake and explore it through various activities, the more it grows on us and we want to visit it again.
But not far away in the direction of Pivka—in Slovenska vas, to be exact—there’s another interesting intermittent gem, Lake Petelinje. To be fair, it’s not the only one in the surroundings of Pivka, there are as many as 17 of them in a 15-kilometre radius, Lake Palčje being the largest and Lake Petelinje the second largest one. But the latter keeps the water the longest, sometimes even for half a year or more, depending on the amounts of precipitation. What we see as a lake is in fact groundwater that the ground fails to “hide” and so it spills over to the surface.
Apart from the ones mentioned already, the seventeen intermittent lakes of Pivka include Lake Jeredovce, Lakes Krajnikov dol and Klenski dol, Lake Radohovsko, Lake Parje, Big and Small Lake Drskovče, Big and Small Lake Zagorje, Kljun Pond, Lake Veliki dol za Kalcem, Lake Kalce, Lake Bač, Lake Laneno and Lake Šembije. Admittedly, I haven't seen all of them in their lake form yet, but I’m very fond of Lake Palčje and Petelinje and I visit them often.
It was autumn, the beginning of November, and we were attending a photography workshop in this very area. It was of course still dark when we gathered. We headed out from the centre of the village of Palčje towards the lake that wasn't there at that time. The mist swirled lazily, but while we walked around (slowly; you know how photographers walk, a few 100 metres per hour :-)) the sun started shining, sunrays bent and the mist lifted. What made the atmosphere even more fantastic were the deer that perhaps kept the horses or the cattle in the enclosed pastures company, but they moved deeper into the forest to have a well-deserved rest as the sun rose. Come dawn, the bellowing of the bucks ceased, but until then it provided an extraordinary background noise that was like a cherry on top of the cake.
In the summer, the golden yellow grass of Lake Palčje is substituted by magnificent flowery scenery. In June, the lake and Lake Petelinje will be covered in countless wild gladioluses (Gladiolus illyricus). The scene is simply awe-inspiring. Beautiful and unusual colour contrasts give the lakes a completely changed look. The flowers attract butterflies and other insects, whereas the lakes, whether they are or aren't there, attract locals, walkers and visitors from elsewhere. The Ecomuseum of the Seasonal Lakes of Pivka serves as an excellent starting point that is keenly and attentively nurtured and kept alive by enthusiastic locals through various events all year long.
A few days ago, when I was driving to the Slovenian coast, I stopped in Pivka by Lake Petelinje. In April, it is rather too early for flowers and the winter, which brought quite some snow to Pivka as well, had left the lake with a lot of water, which is now slowly flowing away. An amazing play of reflections, clouds chasing around the sky and gentle spring with its little green leaves bursting out in the surrounding forest. It was early afternoon and I was almost the only person there. The only other person was a girl examining a species of fairy shrimp endemic to Lake Petelinje (Chirocephalus croaticus) for her Master’s thesis. Later on, I also met a young dad with a kid and a dog. Each of us was immersed in our own story and experienced it differently. We will all keep coming back, for inspiration and a personal experience of this gem among the lakes of Pivka.
Petra Draškovič Pelc
Born in the Slovene Štajerska, she chose to live in Kočevje and the mere thought of adventures in the wild nature of Alaska gets her heart racing like a wild animal. She enjoys silence, peace and the beauty of the light-flooded wilds of all the untouched corners of the world, as well as the beauty of her local Kočevje-area and Slovenia. She is an enthusiastic traveler, a curious admirer of nature, a tourist guide, author of countless articles in Slovenia as well as abroad and a doctor in biomedical science, who found her calling in (natural scientific) photography. Throughout her work with ARS NATURAE she tries to express love towards nature and its preservation.