The winter scalp

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See spouse standing at rear for perspective.

IT’S A YEARLY ritual, the scalping. Sometimes it’s more drastic than other times. I do it personally, the cutting, not the hauling away. I hire help for that.

The gardening situation here on the mountaintop, more than 7,000 feet above the faraway seas, is problematical. Things grow wildly during most of the year.

Then winter comes, sometimes calmly, sometimes not. Last winter was calm. This one is not.

When winter is calm, a minority of them, plants have a two-year span of glee. This is particularly so for the bananas, which are totally out of place here. Till the first freeze last week, they had soared up to 10 or 12 feet with wide trunks to match.

The freeze burned them to a crisp, well, actually, to a brown sag. Luckily, banana trees, no matter their height, are easy to cut. I use a small pruning saw. Though easy to saw, they can weigh a lot, and they come thundering down.

I dodge like Cassius Clay, like a geriatric butterfly.

Years ago, I drove to the tropical town of Uruapan and bought two cute little banana “trees” in cans. I planted one next to the house, and the other by the Alamo Wall. A friend who had lived in Florida said, “bad idea.” Stupidly, I ignored him.

It was like a ghetto household in Detroit. Babies appeared faster than I can count. I transplanted one out next to the street wall, giving me three banana gangs. In time I hired workmen to put cement restraints around the bases.

Now I have lost all patience. As every year after a freeze, I have cut them down, leaving stumps that rejuvenate themselves. But workmen come next week to cover two of the three mobs with cement and stone. I’ve had enough!

Another troublesome plant that also does not belong here, but is beautiful most of the year nonetheless, is the golden datura, which is also easy to cut.

It wilts quickly in a freeze, and I whack it back to its base. Like bananas, it rejuvenates in springtime.

The photo at top should be panoramic to show the pile’s true dimensions. It’s the biggest ever. Tomorrow two guys come with a pickup to haul it away, somewhere.

9 thoughts on “The winter scalp

    1. Ray: I am ever amazed at how things grow here when it’s so high in the sky. We are not tropical. Have to go to the beach for that or Chiapas, etc. Things I (or, more likely, my then-wife) would plant in Houston, stuff that would just sit there and stare at us for years, alive but not doing much of anything, those same things here beef up like there’s no mañana. Must be something in the Mexican air.

      The most noticeable example of that phenomenon in my yard now is aloe vera. I had aloe vera planted in our back yard in Houston, which is more tropical than where I now live. Never did squat, alive but unenthusiastic. Plant aloe vera here, and you better start running.

      As for illegal Gringos, you don’t encounter many of them because when they get caught, they get deported. We don’t believe in open borders here. We have a notion of what it means to be a nation, and open borders are not part of that notion, nor should it be. But you know that.


        1. Clete: Oh, don’t mind me. I enjoy making sweeping generalizations. I have, however, not all that many years ago, personally witnessed Mexican immigration officials haul off someone from the sidewalk here who had no proper paperwork, and I heard later than he was deported. He was European.

          The immigration folks from the nearby state capital used to come to our mountaintop town now and then and target people who looked un-Mexican, asking for visas. Yes, profiling, which is a great law-enforcement tool. Quite a few years ago, I personally was carded, so to speak, in an airport lobby on Mexico’s west coast after a domestic flight. What would they have done had I been without proper papers? Who knows? But I doubt they would have just sent me on my way, as is often the case with illegals in the United States. I intuit that you are sympathetic to illegals due to your use of the PC-friendly term “undocumented persons.”

          Of course, people quite often come into Mexico from the southern border with the intention of sitting on the roof of the train north to the U.S. border and other ways of getting to the Rio Bravo. Mexico, it seems, usually turns a blind eye to them, knowing they are just passing through. Of course, those Mexican officials, especially down south, have a great time robbing and otherwise abusing them. We are not perfect here by a long shot.

          But we do not blatantly advertise to the world that our borders mean nothing to us, as the U.S. has been doing for years now, both Democrat and Republican administrations.


          1. Yes, you do tend to make some outlandish statements from time to time. It is hard to tell whether you are serious or they are tongue in cheek. You are an old newspaper man who well knows a little controversy always bumps the circulation.

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        2. P.S. In short, I do not think Mexico has just one way of dealing with its illegals. Like so many things here, it depends where you are when you get caught and who is doing the catching.


    1. Thanks, Larry. I used Cassius Clay in that sentence instead of Muhammad Ali because I think he was still going by Clay when he made that claim of dancing like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. I could be wrong, as in most things.


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