The Middle Ages

AROUND  6 P.M. yesterday, I was watering the yard with a hose. Six months a year, this is not necessary. The other six months, it surely is. Just plants. I don’t water the grass.

If grass grows, it needs mowing.

I started with the Alamo Wall, spraying the ivy that covers the far side. Had you told me when I was middle-aged that I would spend my waning years behind an ivy-covered wall, I would have thought you daft or worse.

I went on to water things on the wall’s other side, where the yard sits. I only water plants I like. I do not like the loquat tree or the peach either. Not too fond of the pear.

They are trash-tossers.

I do water the sole remaining banana stand, the four rose bushes and the two daturas. I water the towering nopal cactus because I don’t want it to die and thunder down.

I do not water the huge maguey, but I do soak the two beefy aloe veras and the surrounding greenery. I douse the pole cacti, which are over my head now.

I water no bougainvillea. Damn things are on their own.

While watering I was thinking about history.

I have a bachelor’s degree in history. There are few degrees more useless than history. I almost topped myself, however, because when I first attended a university right out of high school, I majored in philosophy.

That was at Vanderbilt in 1962. But I soon dropped out and dropped philosophy too. What was I thinking?

I read lots of history these days. Recently, I’ve been focusing on the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, but it’s unfashionable to say that now. Maybe it’s a race thing.

There was lots of fun stuff in the Middle Ages. There was Charlemagne; his daddy, Pepin the Short; Vikings; Dual Papacies; tribes with names like Lombards, Franks and Jutes; and women named Gerberga and Himiltrude.

Nobody is named Himiltrude anymore.


About a thousand years passed between the Roman Empire’s demise and the Renaissance. That time in between was the Dark Ages. We’re about 200 years shy of another millennium passing.

We’ll enter another Dark Age because people never learn. When baby girls once more have names like Gerberga and Himiltrude, you’ll know it’s time to dig caves and stockpile canned goods and hand grenades.

In the meantime, I wake every morning in the king bed next to my child bride, feeling fine and looking ahead to another day of blue skies, cool breezes and flocks of snowy egrets flying between here and the green mountains.

My Middle Ages were Dark Ages, but now my Old Age is a Grand Age even though I gotta water the yard.

17 thoughts on “The Middle Ages

    1. Gordie/Clete: We’re in the early stages here in the West of cultural dissipation. But you and I are, I’m guessing, old enough that we will slip through to death with minimal suffering.


  1. Rainfall is a rare event so far this January in Michoacan. Retirees would be real slackers if they failed to water their beautiful plants during this rainless season. Irrigation has been a central feature of agriculture for over 5,000 years and is the product of many cultures.


  2. We just had a couple of days of hard freeze temps. We will water what survived and cut back the rest.

    I find history much more relatable at my (and your) age. Currently listening to an audible Kindle edition of Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. One of the series of Great Courses books. Next is Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon.


    1. Carole: I’m just waiting for the first good freeze to decimate the yard. Hasn’t happened yet even though there was a light overnight freeze early last month. Didn’t do any serious damage.

      You like history. That’s why you’re so smart, or is it the other way around?


      1. Didn’t much care for it when I had to learn it. Learned for test, hit the dump button on the way out the door.


  3. History degree, huh? I was an English major for 2 1/2 years before I made the switch to Forestry. Honors English Lit. I’d say that might be worth about as much as History,


    1. Ray: I took just one English course beyond the degree requirement. Made a freaking C. You switched to something sensible. I never did. That makes you smarter than I am.


  4. Something tells me that you’d likely elicit some snickers if you tried to discuss Gerberga in Spanish with your neighbors. So perhaps it’s best to remain mum on the subject.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where albures are less popular than SOB.


    1. Kim: Due to your propensity to hang around with Mexican youth, you likely know something I don’t see here. No matter. I’m sure you are correct. But it’s moot because my discussions with my barrio neighbors are pretty much zero all the time.


  5. I have 500 pesos that say you outlined this piece while watering The Favored Plants. Of course, anyone who says money talks is probably suffering LSD flashbacks.


    1. Señor Cotton: I outlined only the very basic design. Most of my stuff is just me winging it at the keyboard. As for LSD, I have taken LSD, but I’ve never had one of those storied flashbacks. Would be nice, but not when I’m driving.


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