Sunday, March 29, 2015

Listening to Glaciers

I just finished reading “The Lathe of Heaven” by Ursula Le Guin, my first excursion into science fiction. I decided to give a try to this genre after several visits to Mrs. LeGuin’s  blog, which inspired me to declare her as my blogger muse.
            The plot evolves on dual time tracks and alternate universes, leaving me perplexed. Mrs. LeGuin published the book in 1971, while the actual present of the story seems to occur in the early part of the second millennia, thus being in our past. Tenuous, permeable lines distinguish between present, past and future. This started me wondering about time. The present is now the past as I write, yet it was once the future.
            The story overwhelms with a plethora of man-made disasters: pollution, the greenhouse effect, continuous wars, overpopulation, famine and riots; and natural disasters: volcanic eruptions, plagues.  It’s frightening to accept that this scenario is our recent past and our present. Must our future be more of the same?
            Rain, thunder and lightning visited us some days ago. A welcome rain, but short-lived. In Chile’s dry, Atacama Desert region in the north, the driest in the world, entire small town neighborhoods were wiped out by sudden torrential rainfall and massive mud slides. While in the southern, water-deprived rainforests, a massive fire rages, requiring importation of firefighters from neighboring countries. Earlier in the month, the Villarrica Volcano flared up into a fiery eruption. All this in the month of March. It’s beginning to look like LeGuin’s world. I feel the future rushing towards us like a fast-moving train. World events reinforce that sensation.
            In the story’s present all the world’s mountains have lost their eternal snows, even Mount Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica.  Soon hubby and I are heading to Patagonia where we’ll cruise the gelid fjords flanked by receding glaciers, amidst ice floes and marine wildlife. The Darwin cordillera alone has at least six hundred glaciers, some still unnamed.  I hope Ursula LeGuin was mistaken in her vision of a future with bare, glacier- less mountain ranges. If this excursion could take me into a science fiction world, I might be able to hear the glaciers whisperings and advice on their preservation.

I will pay close attention.

Monday, March 16, 2015

More Loose Change or
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The hummingbirds are back in town. Strange that they leave during the summer months. I wonder where they go. Maybe, like so many Santiaguinos , they’re escaping the heat.

Out on my walking route, ads on posts proclaiming “Perro Perdido”. How many dogs get lost just in our neighborhood! Mug shots of missing pets change weekly.

Went to see the movie “Selma” last night. I needed to refresh my memory about those events. Then I realized why I seemed to have a memory gap about those years….I was in Colombia in the Peace Corps then and had little contact with US news. It’s disturbing to me to think that was the situation in my country just fifty years ago. And it’s not over yet.

Fires rage out of control. Chile is living the consequences of climate change. Years of drought has converted much of the landscape, even in the normally rainy southern climes, into dry tinder, yellowed hills and fields replacing the once lush green ones. Now winds fan the flames through the hills of coastal Valparaiso, a tragedy that is becoming a yearly event.
But amidst the fear and worry of hillside residents came moments of joy. Passersby noticed a burrow dug by a female dog under a pile of burning tires.  A local man crawled in and, one by one, pulled out seven puppies of varying colors. Each rescued puppy elicited cheers from onlookers. They were then reunited with their clever mom who had taken cover beneath a container. A canine version of the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners?

The Lollapalooza rock festival came to town this past weekend. My son and his wife took their three young girls. Today – a Whatsaap photo of the ten-year-old twins performing at the Kidzpalooza, one singing before a microphone, the other playing the guitar. Wish I’d been there. Little teeny-boppers in the making. So soon.

Pierre Auguste Renoir said, “I like a painting that makes me want to stroll in it.” Oh, yes!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Loose Change

One night hubby and I clicked the numbers on the remote control hoping for a glimpse into the wonders of the natural world on NatGeo. Question marks appeared on the screen. We checked other nearby channels. Nada. Nothing. A message at the bottom of the screen informed us that the cable server had “rearranged” their grid of channels. Nobody consulted us. Where were our favorite channels? Just when we finally had the channel numbers engraved in our memories, they up and CHANGED them!

It’s like at the grocery store, when someone gets the brilliant idea to change the location of their products, and shopping takes an hour and a half instead of the usual hour. On my yearly visit back to my hometown, I head to a favorite shop and…it’s no longer there.

Slow changes, fast, surprising changes. Changes in our aging bodies. Stiffness getting out of the car. When did this happen?

The month of March charges in like a lion – not with cold or wind but with hordes of returning vacationers, massive traffic jams, Back-to-School frenzy and mind-boggling bureaucracy: income tax preparation and car license renewal. Yesterday I sat in a line for six hours to renew the yearly technical revision/smog control for my car. (My fault. I’d let it lapse.)

While I was stopped at a red light, a grizzled beggar approached wearing on his thin frame an over-sized blue tee-shirt with bright yellow letters declaring “Virginia State”. His eyes twinkled when he thanked me for the coins I handed him out the window.

Last week booming, house-rattling claps of thunder and flashes of lightning in the night. Usual in Florida but not in Santiago, Chile midsummer. Two nights ago the Villarrica volcano presented a pyrotechnic show, spewing red hot lava down its flanks. Add a few daily tremors up and down this long country and it’s clear why Chileans call their country the land of geografía loca, “crazy geography.