Monday, January 11, 2010

Living Gratefully in Argentina: Three More Good Things

No, the title is not an oxymoron. When I find myself feeling swamped by bad economic and political news (so common here!), bad weather (been raining since November!), and expat nostalgia (during holidays), I get out a pen and paper and write out at least 3 things I love about my life here. It is a good way for an expat to surf instead of sink when the waves get bigger! These lists change with the seasons, external and internal, so here's today's list:

1) The avian chorus.

I wish you could hear them right now! It's kinda like being in the San Diego Zoo aviary! This is the kind of tweeting and twittering that lifts me! I love the lilting song of the calandria and zorzal, the cooing of the mourning doves, and the energetic cittering, cheeping, and peeping of a zillion birds who have not yet introduced themselves to me. I like to imagine that the swallows have

come from San Juan Capistrano! We don't have flashy tropical birds on the Pampa, but we do have geese, ducks, ibises, and even pink flamingoes in the wetlands.

Once a pair of egrets took an hour break in our pool! A friend in NH once told me that she figured that if she awoke from a coma she could tell the season just by looking at a few leaves. Here I think a really mindful person could tell the hour of the day as well by listening to the birds. I have the authoritative field guide and binoculars, plus an Argentine husand who is a walking encyclopedia, but please don't ask me to list them all. . . yet.

2) The perfumed air.

Just breathing is a sweet marvel here in summer! I meditate, and that deep breathing pulls in air that has been perfumed with jasmines, lavender, magnolias, lilies, roses, and even the grasss. It gives a new meaning to "inspiration"! I'm aware of it when hanging clothes on the line or swimming in the pool.

I lost my sense of smell for a whole year in 2008 (and could only smell burned onions!), so I consider this a blessing, as good as savoring a dark fudgy brownie or a well aged cab. Just looking is a joy too, with abundant hydrangeas, and lilac-hued agapanthus that contrast with the vibrant red of the lilies...a designer's dream, with a thick green mats of dichondra and Brazil grass framing it all!

3) Homemade boysenberry jam.

As a
Knotts' Berry Farm fan (and hailing from very near there), I was thrilled when Roberto planted some boysenberry vines on our farm. Here folks rarely see a fresh common raspberry, much less a boysenberry (which is a raspberry x loganberry x blackberry cross). Given a preference for the traditional here, locals have zilch interest in buying or even trying them, and they are too fragile to travel well. Thus we make tons of beautiful jam for ourselves and to give to special friends. This morning, despite my diet, I spooned three heaping ruby-red spoons fulls on the whole-wheat toast. . . edible jewels! The blueberries, our bigger crop, are great too--but the boysenberry always makes me feel like I am in California again! I love savoring this taste of my homeland all year long.

Well those are three things and it isn't even noon! How about you?
As Elizabeth Barret Browning advised, "Light tomorrow with today!"

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