Author - Suzanne Adam

1
Chile in Flames
2
One Nation
3
Sneak Preview
4
Spring Cleaning
5
Short-lived Euphoria
6
Wanted: Twenty Thousand Words
7
My Russian Mosaic
8
Glimmers
9
Liquid Contentment
10
My cousin Bob Mushroom

Chile in Flames

The devastating scenes on television are heartrending. Forests aflame in vast regions of central and southern Chile.  They resemble war scenes: people fleeing with the few possessions they can carry; a pickup truck loaded with a refrigerator; a mattress, a stove; tables, chairs, sofas clustered in the middle of the road. The pueblo of Santa Olga – homes, stores, schools, the firehouse – all reduced to ashes.             Firefighters with soot-covered faces struggle with heavy hoses. Neighbors and volunteers wield shovels and electric saws removing brush to create a firebreak. But the wind is wily, changing directions, trapping forestry workers and firemen. Ten deaths reported thus far. Rumors abound regarding the causes. Several fires seem to be man-made. It is clear that the vast plantations of pine and eucalyptus trees are particularly flammable especially in drought years with continuous high temperatures. What I hear is that native vegetation is more . . .

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One Nation

My gaze travels up the length of the slim white obelisk penetrating the blue sky. Bright, fluttering flags ring the monument. A glorious day in my nation’s capital, a nation in which I haven’t resided for over four decades. Is this patriotism that I’m feeling? This mix of nostalgia and pride? I last visited Washington, D.C. many years ago. Today I feel like I’m seeing it for the first time, perhaps because I’m seeing it through the eyes of my son. I’m with thirty-eight- year-old, Nico, born and raised in Chile, and, Laura, his American girlfriend, as he first beholds this pulsing heart of the capital – its monuments, the National Mall, the Reflecting Pool, the round-domed Capitol and the recently inaugurated African-American Museum. The flags and monuments and museums tell the stories of this nation – its founding, growing pains, tragedies, errors and triumphs. They evoke in me the . . .

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Sneak Preview

Sensations, experiences and smells pour through my fingers onto the keyboard. Just back from a month in the U.S. – New York, Washington, D.C., Iowa, Wisconsin, California – I don’t know where to begin. To get a handle on it all, I write down some glimmers of my journey, a sneak preview of what’s to come: New York: Precious time with my son and his girlfriend Pablo Neruda’s face on the Barnes and Noble coffee shop mural An American kestrel alighting on rooftop terrace Nocturnal stroll along the Chelsea High Line   En route from NY to Washington: Warm welcome from girlfriend’s family Touching five states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland Independence Hall tower in the distance   Washington, D.C.: Award at the Peace Corps Connect Conference for my memoir “Marrying Santiago” Recalling fifty-year-old adventures with long lost Peace Corps friends With my son, his first view of . . .

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Spring Cleaning

It’s not spring yet officially until two more weeks, but the warm, sunny days and the fragrant freesias blooming in my garden activate my spring urges. Our apricot tree wears soft white blossoms, and the perfumed air is intoxicating. When I’m not outside talking to the seeds I planted, encouraging them to rise and shine, I’m tackling projects like cleaning out a closet in the spare bedroom. It’s a job I’ve dreaded – sorting through boxes and albums of slides taken by my parents on multiple trips and cruises to Jamaica, Norway, Scottish Highlands, the Pacific Northwest, Chile. Ten boxes, 70 slides per box. Through a mini-viewer I quickly check for people photos. Here’s a surprise. Shots of two survivors of the plane crash in the Andes involving an Uruguayan rugby team. They were staying at the same hotel as my parents while here in Chile for my wedding. I . . .

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Short-lived Euphoria

  Samba dancers in brightly colored costumes, big smiles on their faces as they swirl to the music; a large float bearing two red and yellow papagayo  figures and curvaceous dancers scantily clad in sequined attire; the entire center of the stadium  arena filled with people dancing in flashes of sweeping colored lights. Soon the Olympic athletes join the performers in one big happy, mad party. My husband is somewhere in that crowd. Later he tells me he made a new acquaintance there, Mustafa, a tall Sudanese man, dressed in traditional garments.   The gaiety and euphoria of the closing event of the Olympic Games in Rio are contagious. In front of my television I smile at the antics of the athletes and sway to the rhythm. Swelling euphoria fills me at the sight of thousands of people of many races and nationalities joined together in brotherhood. This is an . . .

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Wanted: Twenty Thousand Words

  “How many words does your manuscript have?” asks the editor. “About forty thousand,” I answer. “Well, you’re short twenty thousand words,” she says. I slump in my chair. We’re talking about a manuscript I submitted for my second book. Twenty thousand more words? And not just any words. No fluff. No verbal garbage. No verbiage. But words that add something. I spend a few days in a writer’s funk. Ideas do not come running towards me like a friendly dog with its tongue hanging out. I must not look for them. Pretend I’m not interested. Then when I’m taking out the garbage, an idea raises its hand. Today I think: why start from zero? Go to my previous blogs. Maybe there are some that can be expanded or further developed. So I read through this year’s blogs and make a list. I feel better already. Having a list is . . .

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My Russian Mosaic

A metronome ticks and stops. Music plays. The metronome ticks and stops. Music plays. The transmission of Leningrad Radio keeping alive the hopes of the city’s inhabitants. It is 1944. The German army siege continues to its strangle-hold over the city during the past 900 days. One million people are dead due to cold and starvation. I stand in the windowless museum commemorating the heroic defenders of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). That recreation of the radio’s transmission takes me back in time, more real than the battered army helmets, rifles and photos on display. Valentín, our 40-year-old guide, tells how the siege affected his family. His grandmother died of starvation. His grandfather’s brother disappeared. The rest of the family was eventually evacuated through the one route open to the interior. In impeccable Spanish he tells us, “No one is alive today who hasn’t lost someone in the siege.”   Back . . .

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Glimmers

It’s not difficult to feel grumpy, irritated and downright depressed in this city of ours, what with grey winter days, carjacking, house and mall robberies, traffic gridlocks and hooded vandals destroying and looting during weekly student demonstrations. These scenes have become our daily bread. Days ago a water main broke on a principal artery of the city. A deluge of escaping water flowed down towards the center of town. Surface traffic and a major metro line were cut. The news showed streams of city folk walking long distances to work. But, all is not gloom. I laughed out loud at the sight of a young, well-dressed woman, desperate to cross the street, clambering aboard a grocery cart pushed by an ingenious Chileno. For a few pesos he delivered her across the river to the opposite corner. Oh, those enterprising Chileans. At the first drop of rain, they’re selling umbrellas at . . .

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Liquid Contentment

  My redwood tree looks perky and content. The neighborhood robins are out breakfasting on an abundance of juicy worms. Hummingbirds squeal and careen in delight. Wet leaves cover the pavement. Even I feel light and energized after the refreshing rain yesterday. After years of drought, rain is reason for celebration. I also am grateful for the clear skies after days of smothering smog, and for the white ring of snow on the Andes surrounding the city. Our current rainfall is three times greater than last year at this time, and winter doesn’t start for three more weeks. I wonder what the rain gods have in store for the next few months. The rainfall in the usually wet southern Chile has diminished. The city of Coyhaique, set in a bowl of verdant hills, is rated as one of the most contaminated cities in the world. Besides the scarcity of rainfall, . . .

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My cousin Bob Mushroom

Since I lean increasingly towards nature writing, I find myself ordering Kindle books on the topic. I’m delighted with my latest purchase: The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter by Colin Trudge. In very accessible prose, he provides a truly refreshing “refresher” course in basic biology.   In high school, as I was on the college track, I was instructed to take chemistry and physics, rather than biology. Maybe biology was considered a lesser science then. In college Biology 1A and B, I barely scraped by. I was a liberal arts gal. Fast forward fifty years: Now I realize that I want to deepen my understanding of the scientific foundations of the natural world — the evolution of scientific names for things and Carolus Linaeus’ system of classification: species, genus, orders, classes and kingdoms (later phylum was inserted between class and kingdom . . .

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