far too much writing, far too many photos

This is the third beautiful day in a row — afternoons awash in golden sunlight, temperatures just mild enough to hold a promise of springtime hovering off in the distance. Mild enough in direct sunlight to allow for opening one’s coat. Mild enough that a songbird took up temporary residence in nearby trees and delivered a pretty spectacular program of evensong that lasted 15 or 20 minutes on two successive evenings. The first time I’ve heard something like that since last summer.

Beautiful days is what I’m trying to say, and especially nice coming after 8 or 9 days in a row of cold, gray, damp nastiness.

By the way, I hope you’ll forgive this journal’s previous entry. I mostly steer away from politics, but in the wake of the recent events in Arizona, I made the mistake of reading comments on a few pages carrying coverage of the events. Stupidly brutal comments, left by individuals from the right end of the political spectrum. Hence my response here. It won’t happen again.

Meanwhile, somehow — and I don’t understand how this happens — we have already slid into the middle of the month. It was just New Year’s, and 1/24th of 2011 has already slipped past. Not that anyone’s counting.

With the turn of the year, a broad anti-smoking-in-public-places law took effect here (a law that certain gasbags affiliated with the smoking industry labeled ‘radical’). The idea: to make it possible to sit in a neighborhood joint sipping at a cuppa something and breathe smoke-free air. A nice idea, really. Two years ago, the government tried the same thing with a previous law. It not only got universally ignored, the major right-wing political party made resisting the law a cause to rally around, especially here in the capital. The result: life continued as it had been. The only difference: every joint hung a xeroxed sheet of paper saying some variation of ’smoking is permitted in this establishment.’

It just may be that the concept needed time to be absorbed and accepted — this was, after all, a country in which a huge percentage of the population smoked, viewed smoking as a fundamental part of life. I think that idea has slowly evolved, especially during the last two years, with the dissemination of not very attractive information about tobacco via the Spanish media. The version of the law that went into effect with the turn of the year may also have been a bit tougher, the government more willing to enforce it.

I forgot all about it until one morning, sitting in a neighborhood joint, midway through a cup of joe, I realized I was breathing clean air. Lovely, stench-free air, so much easier on the lungs. I felt a smile spread across my silly face, a smile that stayed in place the entire time I enjoyed café and croissant.

Before the law took effect, pro-smoking forces spewed dire pronouncements about the loss of business establishments would suffer as a result of the smoking ban. But in the places I frequent, I haven’t noticed any difference. (Well, apart from being to see more clearly. Apart from breathing easier. Apart from leaving with clothes free of cigarette stench.)

The Minister of Health called on people to report infractions of the new law, and apparently during the first couple of days, hundreds and hundreds of reports were made. To the point that the Mayor of Valladolid, to the northwest of Madrid, referred to those lodging complaints as nazis. (The irony: this gentleman is a member of the country’s major right-wing party, the direct political descendants of the fascist dictatorship that controlled the country between 1939 and 1976.) Ah, well.

Here in the capital, the transition to smoke-free has apparently been very smooth, a striking contrast to two years ago. I’m appreciating it every time I step into a bar or restaurante or cafetería for something to eat or drink.

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January sunlight, red courtyard — Madrid

España, te amo

3 Responses to “”

  1. sam

    that is beautiful. loves the different reds being showcased

  2. Keramicke plocice

    Very nice photos!

  3. Keramicke plocice

    Very nice image and post!

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