Golden touch

A few days back. Lots of dangling flower pods.
Golden Datura! Shot on Saturday in a light rain, which you might see.

SCANT GRINGOS live in my hardscrabble neighborhood on the outskirts of town. Plenty — too many — live in other barrios, but few within shouting distance of the Hacienda.

Almost since we built our home in 2002-03, there have been three Gringo residences in our ´hood. There were three back then, and there remain three today.

The other two have seen turnover. Even before we built the Hacienda, there was an old American woman living about four blocks away. She was Judith Deim, an artist of some renown and reportedly an ex-lover of John Steinbeck.

During a recent stop in the Gringo-infested town of San Miguel de Allende, we spotted Deim’s work in a fancy gallery there.

Not really to my taste.

She was 92 when we moved into the Hacienda, and she died three years later, old as the proverbial hills.

Her home became the property of relatives who sometimes were there, sometimes not, I think, but last year a Gringa who’s lived hereabouts a number of years bought Deim’s home and is remodeling it. She gave us a tour a couple of weeks ago.

It was the first time I’d been in the place. Though Deim and I occasionally sat near one another at my sister-in-law’s downtown coffee house on the main plaza, we never exchanged a word. I doubt she knew I was her neighbor.

She was ancient, eccentric and wore no eyeglasses. I, on the other hand, was far less ancient, eccentric and I did sport specs.

The other Gringo house in the neighborhood was constructed not long after we moved into the Hacienda. It is about three blocks away, and the owner was a gay book-seller who came from somewhere in New England.

He was in his 50s, quite friendly and dissipated-looking. I liked him. Unlike most who move here, he lacked independent income, so he tried to scrounge a living by selling books he bought down from above the Rio Bravo. It did not work.

He sold his place to a Gringo family, and moved back to the United States. He died a couple of years later, a heart attack.

The new Gringos were a family who published children’s books, something you can do long-distance. They significantly remodeled their place, and now it’s spectacular.

The couple came with an adopted son in his early 20s. The young man was colossally ill-behaved, and would ride a small bike around the local plaza ogling teen girls. His behavior, it appears, eventually got him into serious trouble.

So the family hightailed it to Uruguay.

Soon after, the now elegant home was purchased by more Gringos, an elderly retired couple. They’ve been here a number of years, and everything seems to be going well for them.

What has this to do with Golden Datura in the photos?

The first Gringo, the bookseller, gave me a cutting from his lawn, and my two datura trees are the result. Every winter, I whack the plants back to the trunk nubs, and every summer they resurrect with a vengeance of green and gold.

The one shown is outside our bedroom window. In summer the aroma of datura sails into the bedroom, and we can hear bumblebees buzzing the blooms.

The top photos were taken this week. The video below was shot way back in 2011.

14 thoughts on “Golden touch

        1. Ray: At about the two-minute mark of the video, there’s a fellow playing an accordion. That’s Arturo Solis who is also an artist (better than Deim, in my opinion) and a friend/acquaintance of mine. I see him most days downtown. I have quite a few of his artworks in our house, some bought and some that he just gifted us. He’s also a very nice guy.


  1. Señor Zapata,
    Everything (everyone), it seems, attracts something (someone). Bumblebees must have their place somewhere.
    I’ve always given them wide berth … sometimes that was not enough as they saw it.


  2. How many of your Gringo neighbors speak Spanish? That always seems to be the stumbling block. I’d guess that those brave enough to settle in your neighborhood are probably better than the average Gringo in SMA, but maybe not?


    Kim G
    Redding, Ca
    Where we’ve surprised our mother’s gardener by being able to speak to him in Spanish.


    1. Kim: The woman who bought Deim’s place speaks good Spanish. I would bet big money that the older Gringos who bought the other home speak none or almost none. I really don’t know them.


  3. Another interesting, well written piece for us to enjoy. I’m only guessing, but I’ve noticed from your photographs that you may be living in Patzcuaro. I have been to several cities and towns throughout Mexico and both Patzcuaro and Morelia are on my list, I hope to visit both in the coming year. We have experienced quite a warm summer here in Tucson so the Mexico high country sounds nice right now.


    1. Thanks for the kind words, Gregorio. Yep, you guessed my town correctly. I never mention it by name, a quirk I developed years ago due to something too complicated to go into. I used to even take it out of comments, but I don’t do that anymore.

      The weather here is nice and cool! I bet Tucson is blazing right now. Pretty place. Just been there once, a couple of nights with my second wife around 1990 if memory serves.


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