A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

Sabañones, Reuma & The Detritus Of Winter
Thursday, December 09, 2010

My memory of my fellow Argentines is that they are hypochondriacs and especially so in winter. As a child I remember the neighbourhood old ladies complaining about their sabañones (chilblains) which were rampant in my Buenos Aires of the 40s and 50s. Winters were cold and extremely humid. Nobody had the luxury of central heating. We used upright kerosene stoves (ours was painted in red enamel) which invariably had a pot of water boiling on its top. Into the water we would either put eucalypt leaves or the leaves of the cedrón (lemon verbena). I can still remember the stench of the kerosene. I am not sure if my parents turned the stoves off at night. Would that have been dangerous? To keep us warm in bed our housekeeper Mercedes would heat up bricks in the kitchen oven and then wrap them in thick cloth.


Argentines also complained of reuma (rheumatism). The little old ladies would gossip about some neighbour who was not expected to survive the winter. Argentines were always complaining of troubles with their livers. You could never tell them that they might consider easing off on the daily diet of red meat or their desserts of canned peaches, flan, all with dulce de leche and crema chantilly (whipped cream with sugar) on top.

This particular winter has brought mixed bad news. My wife has survived the shock of being diagnosed with a cancerous lump in her breast. It was removed and she has been given a clean bill of health. This blogger, on the other hand has been diagnosed with the slightly rare arthritis of the soriatic. The weird thing is that I don’t have and I have never had any skin blotches. In fact I have always been proud of my smooth skin. But my specialist, Dr. Verdejo spotted the vertical striations on m finger nails and toenails and came down with his verdict. Since then the pain in my pinkies and elbows has increased.




I could go on but it would make me feel like one of those little Argentine old ladies talking incessantly about her bad health. In fact by the time I had grown up in Argentina I made it a habit of never asking anybody how they were or felt. I did not want to be plagued by a litany of maladies.



Of late I have noticed (and I have vowed to keep my trap shut henceforth) that when my friends call or when I have coffee with them I recite my health concerns. Only today I was telling my friend Ian Bateson that I was like a car no longer on warranty and there were problems with the brakes, the clutch, the tires, the ignition, etc!

It was sometime in the early 90s in the first few days of December that Western Living dispatched me to the Burrard Indian Reserve in North Van. I was supposed to take a photograph that answered a reader’s question, “Why is it that the Indian burial ground in North Vancouver has so many crosses with the name George?” Appropriately I was met by Chief Len George at the burial ground. He told he was there to make sure I did not desecrate. I am not sure exactly what he meant. But I liked him and his quiet ways. As soon as I finished taking my pictures, little snowflakes began to fall. George explained the tradition of his nation (which I believe is mostly a universal one) that elders and older members of his band looked at winter as a time of the year when everything had to be put right in preparation for the possible death. But if death was evaded that winter then one could rest easy that it marked a new spring and summer to come.


I feel that there is a big chance that I will survive this winter but I still look at the darkness outside and the constant rain with a bit of trepidation and gloom.

Last Saturday I suggested to the girls (Rebecca, Lauren and my own Rosemary) that we have a walk in VanDusen. It was a crisp but sunny afternoon. We walked and it felt wonderful to breath in the fresh cold air. I took a few snaps of the frozen and collapsed perennials. Nobody took a snap of me but I do look forward to coming back next spring just like the perennials, whose detritus you see here.





     

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7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17

7/2/17 - 7/9/17

7/9/17 - 7/16/17

7/16/17 - 7/23/17

7/23/17 - 7/30/17

7/30/17 - 8/6/17

8/6/17 - 8/13/17

8/13/17 - 8/20/17