Oranges haging from a tree, blue sky.
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Who is fooling you now?

Some years ago, when I was still living in Curitiba (Paraná, Brazil), I caught a bus to go back home from work at rush hour. Curitiba is a big capital in the South, with more than two million residents and, in the past, had the reputation of having the best public transportation. That is not true anymore, but this is another discussion.

The articulated bus (also known as a bendy bus) was packed that day. All the seats were taken, and a standing crowd was holding onto the handles and metal bars not to be thrown around with the vehicle’s speed. Due to the fact I have always suffered from motion sickness on any bus, I preferred to be at the front, next to the driver, where it shakes less.

With difficulty, I moved through a not-too-happy crowd asking for permission to squeeze past, making everybody press against each other much more. When I got close to the driver, I saw an empty seat right behind the driver. I thought it was really suspicious that no one had sat there. At the same time that I was about to check out that seat, a girl seated two rows behind at the window got up. Since I was the person right next to the seat at that moment, I let her go and asked around if anyone wanted to sit. No one did, so I took it. Next to me, in the corridor seat, there was an old black gentleman, wearing a beige suit and a brown beret that seemed to have traveled in time from those traditional Blues Clubs from the 50s-60s. We were quiet for most of the trip. We also kept seeing people trying to fight the crowd when they noticed the empty seat, getting close to it, and giving up, moving to the back of the bus. Two, three, four people, and the behavior was the same. By the fifth person, the old man looked at me, smiled knowingly, and quoted a part of an old Brazilian samba song:

- Laranja madura, na beira da estrada, tá bichada, Zé, ou tem maribondo no pé.

(“My friend, a ripe orange on the side of the road, can either mean it’s rotten inside or there’s a wasp nest in the tree.” By the way, the original was much more poetic and rhymed…)

I looked at him, confused. And he went on:

- It is like the samba song*. When something seems too good to be true…

- Oh, sure. There’s something wrong with that seat, right?

- Yeah, someone puked there.

- Oh, got it!

We smiled at each other and kept observing more people going towards the seat, looking at it, and turning back.

// — // — // — // — // — // — // — // -

Chipmunk in a can of leaves.

When I came to the US, I went to live in Bar Harbor, Maine. The little village/town is part of Mount Desert Island, set in Acadia National Park. Therefore, I had around 100 trails that Acadia offers to walk my dog, Pandora. My big problem was that being an urban girl my whole life I didn’t know what kind of danger I would face in the middle of the woods. So while my husband, born and raised there, would walk the dog in the middle of the dark without even a headlamp or flashlight, I would get lost during the day, on a loop trail…

When we were walking together, all kinds of noises in the woods would startle me. I kept thinking: you never know, it could be a huge bear, a starving feline, or a pack of wolves… Yeah, right, I was possibly overdrawing it, perhaps because I had watched a lot of Discovery Channel.

Slowly, talking to residents and being trained by my husband, I learned that the park has many deer, some moose, raccoons, sometimes a bear (but it is rare), bobcats, and coyotes. I also learned that eagles, in rare situations, could attack our dog (who is medium sized). The park has, also, lots of small animals, from hundreds of birds and bats to groundhogs, squirrels, and chipmunks.

In my years living there, I relaxed more and more in the thick of the woods. I spotted thousands of squirrels and chipmunks, a great number of deer (even coming to the property), families of raccoons, eagles, and a moose. I learned how to observe my dog’s body change when some animal was around. And, of course, I continued to pay attention to the noises. Or the LACK of them. Yes! That was the most useful advice my husband gave me on the ten millionth time I was startled by the ruffling of leaves and found out it was a small chipmunk:

- Hey, big animals hardly make any noise. The small ones make the most noise to appear big and scare their predators.

Soooo, then I needed to be worried about the silence!

That was a beautiful training, having all the senses paying sharp attention to what was around me. It was in this way that I spotted a beautiful family of majestic deer in front of us. No ruffling of leaves. Nothing. When Pandora started to bark, they moved away very fast, making the slightest noise. The same happened with the moose. Pandora smelled it, and when she changed her posture to a more attentive position, I started to search and found it. He must have been staring at us for a while…

Nowadays, much more calmly, I still look around when I hear many leaves always to find a scandalous chipmunk running around like crazy, defending its scurry from the approaching dog.

- // — // — // — // — // — // — // — // -

I don’t know if you like PBS TV Channel, but I always have a blast with their shows, especially the Masterpiece on Sundays. We recently watched “Atlantic Crossing” and “World on Fire,” both depicting WWII stories. The former focuses on the Norwegian princess, Martha Tyra, and her efforts to keep the family safe and help her country while living in the USA. The latter shows stories in various countries during the war: UK, France, Poland, Germany, and the USA.

We talked about the excruciating decisions these people made to survive this period of horror, especially during the bombing. My husband then told me what he learned from his grandfather, a veteran who had participated in the D Day events.

- Grandfather said that when there was a bombing around them, you should have felt lucky when you could hear the bombs exploding because they exploded just far enough from you. At least, not on you. So, in that situation, hearing the bombs was something good. The danger was when you didn’t get to hear them…

So, what do these three short stories have in common?

The main question here is: who is fooling you right now?

Maybe you are super certain that some situation is all you need/want/demand from the universe, and you do not see that it could be a trap? Not that I want you to be suspicious of everything that seems too good to be true but, instead, to truly search your soul about what you are seeking as the ideal, perfect solution for your problems. Sometimes, what you think is perfect for you, is not that perfect. So perhaps you should be open to other opportunities that don’t seem quite perfect but would bring you to a lovely path. Think about it.

Or, perhaps, you are really worried about problems that are ruffling your life’s leaves vigorously, but, in fact, they have the size of a chipmunk. You can be too worried about the noises and not take the silent moment to see the big “animal” or the big picture that could be right in front of you.

Finally, all the bombs life may be throwing at you, and you are hearing could be preventing you from realizing the biggest blessing at this moment: you are alive!

*The samba is called Laranja Madura, and is from Ataulfo Alves (1966).




Low profile traveler, art crafter, communication professor, journalist, researcher, mom, grandmother, feminist, and now, copywriter.

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Nivea Bona

Nivea Bona

Low profile traveler, art crafter, communication professor, journalist, researcher, mom, grandmother, feminist, and now, copywriter.

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