Saturday, July 25, 2015

Views

It’s Saturday and my husband is off on a day-long cycling trip. I am faced with an array of choices. How will I spend this day?  I want to make the most of it. Do something novel, inspiring.
I stand at the window. The morning garden wears a grey, chalk-like pallor, brightened by blooms of pink azaleas and primroses. (I prefer the Spanish Orejas de oso , Bears’ Ears.) The sky too is dove grey.

Orejas de Oso

After dropping off my husband at their designated meeting place, I snuggle back into my warm bed to read the newspaper in search for an art exhibit. I want to invite myself to an “Artist’s Date”, stimulation for my blogger muse who has been sleeping on the job lately. First on my agenda (after the news paper) is a brisk hour’s walk. After that, it’s “anything goes”.

Just back from my walk. Sweaty and thirsty, but first, straight to the computer. How could I have forgotten that long walks stimulate my creative juices, drawing my muse out of hiding? After days of searching, I came up with a title for a section of my new book. I’ll reveal no more for now.
My thoughts wandered back to an article in today’s newspaper about the detection by the spatial telescope Keplar of a new planet very similar to Earth and perhaps capable of supporting life. Astronomers have access to mind-blowing views, though they do not yet have the technology to analyze Kepler-454b, much less photograph it, situated as it is 1400 light years from Earth. I t is also 1500 years older than our planet.
I seldom look at the nighttime sky here in Santiago. City lights and thick smog opaque the stars.  Only in southern Chile and in the northern Atacama Desert have I beheld the evening sky awash in a myriad of stars.
In those places, I struggle to wrap my mind around the numbers, the distance. Growing scientific knowledge once again challenges my deepest beliefs and concepts of the universe, creation, life and God. I find it incomprehensible. Man can never know it all – but will always keep on trying.

That’s where the wonder lies – in the unfathomable, the infinite uncertainty. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Things are looking up

A welcome reprieve has been granted to the city’s discontent, gloom and smog. The Chilean national soccer team beat their arch rivals, the Argentinians, last weekend to win the America Cup. Fireworks, cheers, horn honking, euphoria filled the night air. For once, the underdogs from this sliver of a country at the bottom of the world won the prized trophy.
Now this weekend RAIN is forecast, in fact, a BIG STORM. The TV weathermen have announced it for days, giving lengthy, detailed descriptions, aided by maps, of the progress of the storm coming off the Pacific. I study the clouds. So far, just minor sprinkles have moistened our world and a light mantle of snow rests on the Andes. But heavy rain is due and I look out the window for its arrival, my ears perked for the wonderful patter on the roof. Such build-up and excitement for a climatic phenomenon we used to consider completely natural. I’m prepared: door mats and patio furniture put away and a thick book to keep me company while the rain cleanses and refreshes our thirsty, dusty world.

Gusts of wind scatter leaves helter-skelter. The much-awaited storm is announcing its arrival. I turn my chair to an angle for a better view. But, then – stillness. The storm is reluctant, advancing in fits and starts.

Night has descended. Outside the pavement is wet and rain dots puddles shining in the streetlights and tap-taps the waterspout outside my study. A gentle rain. No downpour – yet.

Whipping gusts of wind through the night and a steady rain. The scene in our backyard this Sunday morning – a disorderly riot of leaves (as if they’d had a wild party during the night) and a large fallen bough from our avocado tree. We lounge in bed, a breakfast tray between us, watching the rain and reading the morning newspaper.

 I turn first to the international news, the travel magazine and Arts and Letters section. Isabel Allende’s latest book, “The Japanese Lover” is number one on the Chile’s fiction book list. The author is here now to launch her book and visit family. I missed by one day her book launch at the Book Passage Bookstore in Marin County, but I left her a gift. I put a copy of my memoir in a pink bag along with a letter to her and left it at the book store. I wrote that we had an old friend in common, now deceased, whose letters I'd bring when I traveled to Marin to mail to her. I told her she might find my memoir of interest as, in many ways, our lives were mirror images. She left her native Chile to finally settle in my home county, while I left Marin to live my adult life in Chile. We are also the same age. I doubt that, in her busy life, she’ll take interest in my book, but I wrote my email address in small letters at the bottom of the letter. I don’t expect to receive a response….but wouldn’t it be exciting if I did!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Just an Acorn?

These days it’s not difficult to fall into a Henny Penny mindset. Conversations dwell on the negative state of the country, or, for that matter, of the whole world – variations on Henny Penny’s “The sky is falling!” when an acorn dropped on her head. Sadly, an acorn is not the cause of the building worry and negativity.
A pall of discontent looms over this city in which we live as well as other regions of the country. Daily news reports of arson on farms and robberies at gun point in homes, on the street, in gas stations have propelled us into a state of insecurity. A Chilean version of the lawless days of the Wild West? Citizens complain, writing letters to the newspaper editors for greater protection and a stricter justice system (referred to as “the revolving door”, in the clink one day and out the next). Last night hubby and I joined a citizen protest known as a cacerolazo, in which you’re supposed to raise a big ruckus. We stood outside in the cold winter air at nine p.m. joining in with our neighbors banging on pots and pans. All around the night air reverberated with the clanging and banging and honking horns. I had some previous practice with this type of protest some forty odd years ago in the nightly protests for the food shortages during Salvador Allende’s regime.
Also weighing heavily upon us is the thick layer of smog and lack of rain. A series of air “pre-emergencies”, controlling the number of cars on the streets, has yet to increase the visibility or return the city to its true colors, no bright sharp greens or deep blue sky, and the Andes lie behind a curtain of thick brown gunk.  Today, if your license plate ends in 3 or 4, you can’t use your car, unless you’re willing to risk a fine. There’s talk that El Niño is headed this way bringing rain, but I’ve heard that before. On this grey, gloomy day, a few drops of rain fell – to tease us.
A welcome distraction from the discontent is the ongoing American Cup soccer championship taking place here in Chile. Saturday the Chilean national team faces the formidable Argentine team in the final match. Again a ruckus is in order as fans cheer on their teams with raucous outbursts of yells, chants and horn-tooting. We’ll be following the game on television. When Chile scores a goal, I, not much of a soccer fan, will jump up and shout with the entire neighborhood, “GOOOOL!!!!
Pre-game euphoria

Once behind us the excitement of the soccer matches, we’ll still be left with delinquency and drought. No short term, easy solutions are in sight.

It is times like this when small satisfactions bring relief. I prune my one rose bush and the hydrangeas, noticing their tiny new buds, promises of spring. I read an email from cousin Llew, thanking me for writing my memoir! Such sweet words. (I mustn’t come to depend upon daily praise to bolster my belief in my memoir). Every day contains small satisfactions. I just have to notice them. Perhaps it’s simply coming upon a shiny round acorn during a walk.