Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The social barometer.

As usual, the cues and clues from the street vendors and actions of Valparaisians have proven more accurate than any calendar.  We are emerging with blinking eyes from five months of winter and though it doesn’t snow in Valparaíso it has been a test of endurance for those of us from an area officially called The Sunshine Coast.  Two loads of timber, three days to dry washing, seeing your breath at three o’clock in the afternoon, inside being colder than outside, sunshine a myth and clouds a constant we have proven the local saying true:  If you survive until September, you’ll survive the rest of the year.

But how do we really know that it is spring?  Knees.  Since the end of April our girls have kept their knees hidden under stocking while at school.  For my students who complain about the silent ‘k’ in English… know knees krun kabout klike kspring klambs.  The close cousin of the knee, the elbow, has also been sighted in various forms enjoying the sunshine.

How do we really, really know it’s spring?  Kites or volantín are taking to the skies and neighbours engage in dogfights.  The idea seems to be to knock the other kite out of the sky. The kites only cost CH$200 each and are available everywhere.  The design is a simple diamond shape without a tail.   Anyone who flies a volantín also possesses a gaint wooden reel with over 300 metres of string on it.  The reel has an internal handle to allow for the string to be retracted at a finger blistering pace.  There is a vast amount of stray string appearing on powerlines, rooftops and tree branches as well as injured kites clinging precariously to the aforementioned structures.

How do we really, really, really know it’s spring?  The Chileans are preparing for their independence day celebration on Spetember 18th.   Flags, banners and BBQs have been on sale for the past three weeks and everywhere we look we see red, white and blue waving in the wind.  We’ve been invited to a traditional Chilean BBQ on Sunday where we’ve been promised to eat lots of meat.

But how do we really, really, really, really know it’s spring?  Talluah finds it difficult to get warm and this week I saw her walking around the house barefoot.

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