Energy of autumn

FALL MAKES  me want to do something. It puts a spring into my step.

In just the last few days, the presence of autumn has become more obvious. Leaves fallen from the peach tree litter the Jesus Patio, and the summertime dawn temperature of 60 has plummeted to 58.

So, this morning, with that spring in my step, I cast procrastination aside and decided to do something. First, I did what I do every Saturday morning, and that’s water the potted plants in the veranda.*

Dave Brubeck played Take Five  through the living room window.

fallEnergy up, I cleaned the glass-top table and web chairs on the Jesus Patio. I brushed dust and bat crap from the shelves along the veranda walls. And I swept the floor.

I cleaned the psychedelic ceramic birdbath and changed the water. I swept the Honda carport but not the Nissan’s.

I stuck my head into the bakery workshop and said hi to my child bride, baking in a cloud of flour. It smelled good in there.

I walked upstairs and oiled the squeaky parts of the gym set.

Fall has always been my favorite season. When I lived in Dixie, it was as far as you could get from the next summer swelter. There is also a certain sadness — a tristeza — involved, but a sweet sort.

In spite of that, fall holds optimism for me. It inspires hope, and that’s always a good thing. It’s fall, not spring, that reminds me of love.

* * * *

* I am reading my third excellent book in a row about India by William Dalrymple. There are lots of verandas in India, and I like the word. Plus, it applies to what we have here at the Hacienda. So veranda will replace the old “downstairs terraza.” The upstairs terraza will remain a terraza because it is not a veranda. It’s mostly uncovered.

God bless Mexico

WHEN I STEPPED outside at 8:30 a.m., the thermometer read 58 degrees.

In July.

In the Olden Days, when I lived in Houston, we would sweat buckets all summer, and I would pray for the first arrival of true Autumn, which I defined as a temperature less than 60. It would invariably show up around October 20, and the city would breathe a sigh of relief and elation.

A friend sent this interesting video yesterday. However, I hope all those Gringos and Canucks head to Ajijic instead of to my mountaintop. We already have too many grown men with ponytails and the sort of women they bond with: Birkenstocks, flower halos and armpit hair.

Cuttings of November

EVERY YEAR around this time I start to think of butchery.

The yard goes berserk every summer, you see, and as frigid winter arrives — it often freezes — things flip entirely in the other direction, leaving much of the yard dead, brown and butt-ugly.

aloeSome things you can just ignore, like the grass, but others must be dealt with. Topping this list are the three stands of banana trees, which must be whacked back.

The fan palm, which grows taller every year, must be trimmed. I think this season I’ll need a ladder, a first.

The two datura trees get cut back severely, but that’s pretty easy because they are very soft wood. The loquat tree is attacked, and there are two stands of some plant that grows wildly from bulbs.

I just eliminated one of the two this morning. Perhaps the second will fall tomorrow.

I’ll get Abel the deadpan neighbor who cuts the grass all summer to dig up this aloe vera bush you see in the photo. It’s gotten too big for its britches, elbowing way over onto the sidewalk.

We’ll still be prepared for the occasional burn in the kitchen, first-aid-wise, because there are three other stands of aloe vera in the yard. But they’re not butting onto a sidewalk, not bothering anybody at all.

polesWell into our 11th year at the Hacienda, the yard is big and beefy, not like the starter environment of 2003 when I cared for all with little effort.

Now, much has gone totally out of control, and I let it be.

I’ve long been a cactus man and could be happy living in the desert. Cacti did not feel at home at my house in humid Houston, back in the 1990s. That’s not the case here.

Look at these pole cacti. I planted a couple when they were just little tykes. They have multiplied, and are almost as tall as I am.

What you see farther back is a maguey that has shot up its death tree. When it “flowers,” it’s the last gasp, its death rattle. It will die, but it takes quite a long time to do that. In the meantime, it’s a conversation piece.

That’s all for now. It’s time to go downstairs and eat cereal. Then I’ll shave, bath and dress, drive to the market by the train station and buy tangerines. It’s the season. I’m a tangerine man.