Sunday, June 12, 2011


Ever since NOAA declared that La Niña was dead on June 9 and we are now back in ENSO-neutral conditions, we have had no rain to speak of. (ENSO stands for El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation.) It's as if someone turned off the faucet. Remarkable. Not sure if there is a connection, but this prolonged lack of rain seems too strong to be merely circumstantial. This is the longest dry spell we've had in a couple of months.

As a result, I've been taking advantage of the dry weather to have the windows open and the dehumidifier off, and to spend more time just being outdoors. Lately I've been spending nearly all my time indoors except for the occasional walkabout in the garden to see what's growing. How ironic - that in living next to the rain forest as I have for the past few months, I was slowly losing touch with nature.

It was time to get back in touch.

So for the past couple of days I've been renewing my acquaintance with the outdoors. Here are some observations from that time:

  • The two loose calves which appear from time to time on our road have been camping out continuously in the empty space next door to my house and in front of my gate with no owner in sight.  I worry that they may be getting thirsty, but they are certainly not lacking for food by grazing on the lush grass all day.
  • Today I saw a flock of  raucous birds zooming in one direction and then another just overhead. Suddenly they re-appeared - parrots! The first parrots I've seen in the neighborhood. They didn't stop long enough for me to take a picture of them.
  • I got to have a nice conversation with the little boy who lives next door and his family as they walked up the road past my gate. I bragged to his parents that he was helping me to learn Spanish. He is about six years old, I figure, and stops by to chat regularly when I'm outside.
  • I finally made some chocolate-chip cookies for Señor Lara. This involved great effort on my part, including shopping for the hard-to-find ingredients over a period of a couple of weeks, then making them completely by hand because there is no electric mixer in the house, and watching them like a hawk as they baked because the oven has no temperature markings. I have to say they turned out great. The biggest challenge was finding brown sugar; I used the local panela sugar loaf found in every food store and grated it. It and the real New Zealand butter imparted an usually rich taste to the cookies. I had bought a special plastic storage container to hold the cookies, and printed out a little speech in Google Translate to say to Señor Lara when I present the cookies to him. Unfortunately, he and his family took advantage of the nice weather to be away from home for a few days. So the cookies and my little printed speech stayed safely in the car so I wouldn't eat the cookies or lose the speech in the meantime.
  • Yesterday I saw Señor Lara sitting in an unaccustomed place - up in his yard instead of outside his gate. I stopped the car and carried the cookies to him while giving him the speech. He seemed thrilled. I don't know if he can even eat the cookies; it's possible his blindness may be from diabetes. Even so, I felt good about doing this small kindness.  I had promised him the cookies and wanted to be true to my word.
  • This evening I sat out on the back porch to watch the birds settle in for the night. They have finally begun to eat the bananas we set out for them. In the meantime, many more bananas are ripening on the trees, more than the birds or I can possibly eat.
It is just now dark. A distant rumble of thunder suggests that this respite from the rain may be coming to an end. And I shall welcome the rain, just as I relished these few days without it. 

For each and every day here is precious in its own way.


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