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!!!!
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.