Winter in Valdivia.
Winter here is quite different than winter where I come from. Many of the trees keep their leaves, the grass stays green and competes with the moss, and there is no snow. The coastal breezes keep our climate more stable. Though, that does not mean it doesn’t get cold. Last week we had several days of 25 degrees Fahrenheit. That might not sound too cold for those from the northland, but for the majority of chileans who do not have insulated houses and only have a wood burning stove to crowd around, 25 is cold. But for me, winter here is mild. I never leave the house and feel that icy breeze of my childhood that steals the breath from your lips. We don’t have to shovel snow off the driveway or cringe when the heat bill comes at the end of the month.
Some days, like yesterday, we get very beautiful winter days with the sun shining. The light and warmth beckons people out of their houses to take a walk along the river, have a barbecue, or hang out the clothes to dry. However, the sunny days bring the coldest nights when there are no clouds to entrap the earth’s heat. Last night we attended a friend’s birthday party which started out as a very nice gathering along the river on a sunny evening. But, that river’s edge soon turned very cold when the sun went down. So, we crowded around the fire, shuffled our feet to stay warm, and got wild with face paint while enjoying some local music.
The big Bandurian birds are back! They left us for awhile during the dry summer. They are really impressive with their large wingspan and long curved beaks. Before we learned what they are called, we referred to them as Pajaros con Pico Largo. That got some laughs from the chileans who don't used the word pico in the same way as the colombians...