The dawn of autumn

Wheelbarrow and tools await instructions.

There were indications yesterday, but this morning confirmed it. Sunshine and 70 degrees. I skipped my customary exercise walk around the neighborhood plaza, choosing instead to get some yard chores completed.

I declare the rainy season done for 2020. It normally continues into October, even beyond, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case this year. I remember one year that it rained on September 30, and that was the end of it. I bet we’re seeing something similar now.

¡Qué bueno!

I put on my tennis shoes and my long-sleeve T-shirt due to the sun. I trimmed one of the bougainvilleas back. I whacked the stand of bananas. I scrubbed the birdbath and filled it with fresh water. Related to that is the location change of the galvanized tub where water waits for terraza watering purposes.

During the rainy season it sits under a drain pipe from the roof, endlessly refilled. Today, I moved it to its winter position under a faucet from a water tank in the Garden Patio.

New digs for the water tub.

I dug up some weeds. I trimmed sagging roses abutting the Alamo Wall. My child bride mixed me a glass of green juice with collagen.

Fall was my favorite season above the border because the contrast with summer was so stark. It’s less of a switch on my mountaintop, but it’s still delightful. Delight has been in short supply this year, one of the worst of my — and likely yours too — life.

Hacienda birds enjoy this colorful spot.

After doing my duties, I sat a spell on a rocking chair in the downstairs terraza. I watched a hummingbird sitting on a twig of the orange bush. Then he took off to dine on aloe vera flowers. I took his cue and stepped inside for cereal.

Sunlight and tacos

New Image
7:30 a.m. Sunlight hits the arch that separates the living room and dining room.

BACK IN 1999, just before I packed two bags and moved over the southern border for good, an artist and gallery owner acquaintance who sold my stuff in Houston told me he had lived a spell in Puebla and that what most stuck in his mind was the light.

He had the Gauguin eye.

I’m not sure the light is any different here, but at moments it’s more noticeable than at other times. We’re approaching the rainy season right about now, and that should diminish the blinding sun of springtime, which is mostly a good thing.

I need to haul the lawnmower to the shop for servicing.

9:30 a.m. Stone, big succulent, bridal bouquets, aloe vera and dead grass beyond.

Tuesday was a breakthrough day for us here in the Plague Year. We barreled down the mountainside to the nearby capital city, and we ventured farther afield than just Costco, which has been our sole destination, along with the Chedraui supermarket, since early March, maybe even late February.

Those two stores are on the relative outskirts of town.

We went to a bank. We went to a Soriana supermarket in a shopping center to buy lemon-pepper spice, which is a nightly salad essential, and we ran out last week. Not available at Costco or Chedraui for some reason. While my child bride was in the bank, I entered a monster mall to buy vitamins at GNC. For the first time, I had my temperature checked with one of those pistol things, and I was declared free of Kung Flu.

The day’s high point was going back to our favorite drowned-taco eatery, Las Ahoganitas where we downed four each, accompanied by the best horchata you’re gonna find anywhere in this life or the next.

On returning to our hardscrabble neighborhood on the mountaintop, we noticed it had rained. Perhaps there is some urgency in getting that lawnmower serviced and running. The lawn rejuvenates rapidly with just a few good gulps of rainwater.

My humming amigos

THE FIRST TIME I recall seeing a hummingbird was one morning as I was sitting on the porch of a cabin at a Unitarian retreat center in the mountains of North Carolina. A hummer paused briefly at a bloom not far off. It was exciting.

Years later, after I purchased a ranch house in Houston, Texas, I discovered that hummers migrated through the area every Spring — or was it Autumn? I hung a red, plastic feeder in the backyard, and they were frequent visitors. I liked that a lot.

Hummers don’t much like one another. They are fond of brawling, but there are exceptions. Once I visited Ramsey Canyon in southeastern Arizona. Good Lord! There were hummers all over the place, scores, maybe hundreds, sitting side by side on tree branches just as peaceful as you please. Maybe they were nectar-drunk.

Even more years later, I found myself atop another mountain, here where the Hacienda sits, and there are hummers in residence. No feeders required. Hummingbirds are in the yard all year. Maybe they take a break in the winter. My attention can wander.

hummerOur huge aloe vera plants put out big, orange blooms. The red-hot pokers are hummer favorites too, plus other flowers of spring and summer. All I have to do is sit atop a rocker on the downstairs veranda or on a web chair out on the yard patio, and there they are, foraging hummingbirds.

Back at the Houston ranch house, high on a backyard tree, I installed a bat house I’d purchased from Bat Conservation International. I knew there were bats in the neighborhood because summertime night walks down the street would show their presence as they flitted in and out of the lights atop the street poles.

But not one ever moved into my bat house, which I’d bought with good money.

Here at the Hacienda, however, we have bats. They live in the clay roof tiles of the downstairs veranda, leaving their bat poop on the ceramic floor in certain corners and flying out, sometimes quite near my head, at dusk. Whoosh!

I don’t know which I like better, bats or hummers. Maybe it’s a draw.

A good scrub


SOME MAY RECALL that we totally renovated the upstairs terraza a year ago, putting a glass roof overall and improving the space 100 percent.

Over the past year, it’s gotten dirty up there, so we hired José to clean it with his pressure washer. He arrived this morning. You’ve heard of walking on water? José is walking on glass, but it’s 1/4-inch tempered glass. That’s shade cloth over much of the opaque glass.

The yellow building with the red roof just beyond is the sex motel next door.

Here’s how it looks below. Due to the Kung Flu, we’ve been spending more time there with limeade on late afternoons. Come sit a spell. It’s sweet.

José is standing atop of this in the above photo.