Friday, March 19, 2010

Imaginary Landscapes

The two most striking images of today are in my mind's eye. They come from stories told to me by my friend, Marlene. We were out on the morning dogwalk, feeling sad about the trees the township cut down along our road for no apparent reason. (Rest assured, I have asked for one).
She told me two stories, one of which made me sad, and one of which filled me with joy and nostalgia. The first was about how hot it has become in her home country of Costa Rica. She was raised on the slope of a volcano high in the mountains near San Jose. Her mother recently sent her some pictures of kids playing outside in shorts and spaghetti strap tee shirts. Mom!, are they crazy? asked Marlene... her memories of what she wore while growing up were rubber boots, sweaters and woolen caps. When she was a girl, it was always cool and misty. Her mother told her that since the lumber companies deforested the volcano, the climate has changed a lot. The climate in San Jose, where her mother lives now, is also changing. Because it is on a high plateau fairly close to the equator, the climate has always been steady within a few degrees of 20 C, summer and winter. Last week, it was 35C.

The happier story was also from Mar's childhood. Her grandfather had a finca, a farm in the countryside. Down the laneway was a row of large conifers which had grown so tightly together that they almost formed a hedge. Marlene was lucky to grow up near her cousins, arranged in three groups of four age-mates each, and they loved to play in these trees until they were teenagers. They created their own world in the tree tops , each having a house, with dishes and special belongings. They could move from tree to tree, like squirrels, never having to climb down to go visiting each others houses. Like the Swiss Family Robinson, or the Lost Boys. How idyllic! Life is definitely better with cousins.

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