The forest floor

floor

Fred looked down at the forest floor beneath his feet.

He noticed that it was about an inch below his boots. He was floating, but just barely. How did he get here?

He looked around him, and the woods spread as far as he could see, which wasn’t far because the forest was thick with tall trees.

There was a taste of sky blue far overhead.

Fred put one foot in front of the other, over and over, walking, and he made progress, passing one tall tree after the other.

Finally, he saw them. A young man and woman sitting beside a campfire, and there was a tent too. None of it, neither the couple nor the fire nor the tent, touched the forest floor.

Where am I?  Fred asked. The young man looked at his companion and then back at Fred. You are where we are, between Heaven and Hell.

How long have you been here?  Fred asked. We don’t know, the young woman replied. We only know that we are camping, nothing else.

At that moment, Fred heard a familiar voice, the voice of a woman he had loved long ago with an unspeakable intensity.

The voice said, I will be your sponsor.

Fred began to rise and, as he did so, he noticed the bark on the nearest tree, brown with green lichens and what seemed like woodpecker work.

Higher he rose, and this tree plus the others too began to change colors, pinks and purples that sparkled. Fred saw the blue sky draw closer, and finally he broke into an open field above the forest canopy.

And there was the woman he had loved with an unspeakable intensity. What is happening?  he asked.

You have died, as have I, but you did not know,  she said.

I am your heaven, and you will be mine.

Who are the couple below?  Fred asked. They are sentinels for now, she replied. They died in one another’s arms, complicating their situation.

EyesFred looked at her face, this woman he had loved with an unspeakable intensity, and he smiled.

A butterfly passed before his eyes.

The water jungle

water

And the rains came . . .

The change seems to come overnight, but it actually takes a spell.

And things happen, large and small.

* * * *

Swallow this!

Saturday night, during a downpour, I opened the steel door from the kitchen to the service patio. There’s an overhang under which runs the clothesline, a clothesline that draws no attention to itself most of the year.

But swallows like to sleep on that clothesline during the rains because the overhang keeps them nice and dry, and that would be okay if they didn’t crap on the floor. They are nasty guests.

On opening the steel door that night, I saw one swallow there, so I yelled at him. He ignored me even though he was only about three feet away.

Smart ass, I muttered to myself as I went for a broom. I whacked the clothesline with that broom, and he sped away, leaving white poop on the cement floor.

Of all the nerve.

* * * *

Like the goat Hefner

Later, I was in the downstairs bathroom, the big one, brushing my teeth, getting ready to lay my aging carcass on the king bed with my child bride, like the goat Hefner and his preposterous playmates.

Drip, drip, I heard, alarmingly. There’s a skylight over the tub, and it was a leak. Fortunately, it was falling into the tub so no harm done. I checked the two other downstairs skylights, one in the hall, one in the closet.

No leaks, but the season is fresh and young, as I once was.

I sealed those skylights with silicone in May, and what good did it do me? The other two will give out before September for sure. One cannot win against water.

* * * *

Making lakes

Depending on which way the wind blows, a good stiff rain can leave lakes on the floor of the downstairs terraza. Sometimes they are small ponds. Other times, the lake covers almost the entire terraza, a roofed terraza, mind you.

Later, it’s necessary to push it all out with a broom and squeegee.

* * * *

Blame is mine

The windows have never worked well, probably because I designed them and then hired a third-rate carpenter to build them. There’s no one to blame but me.

No matter how much silicone I squeeze along their edges, water still finds a way. Paper towels are the permanent, stopgap solution, it seems.

* * * *

Curtain mice

Years ago, I lived alone in a two-story rental closer to downtown. The summer rains would drive mice inside. I set out sticky paper nights, and mornings I would fling the little thrashing buggers over the property wall into a sewage creek.

I was an unkind man.

One night, lying in my bed reading a book, the drapes pulled shut nearby, I heard a scurrying sound as the curtain jiggled from bottom to top, as if something were climbing up from the floor on the far side.

He reached the curtain top, and peered over, and our eyes locked, yes, another dratted mouse! I shut my book, closed the door and slept that night in the upstairs bedroom. He was gone by morning. I think.

In that rental, on three occasions, I found rats in the toilet bowl. I just flushed them back where they came from. Don’t live next to a sewage creek.

A rat flushes easily, if you didn’t know.

* * * *

Poison and peaches

But that was then, and this is now.

Outside, the yard is going wild. Abel, the deadpan neighbor and lawnmower man, cuts the grass on Saturdays, and by Monday it needs it again. That’s just not right. We await the following Saturday anyway.

Snails come out and eat my poison. Flowers burst forth. The fruit trees muscle up. Soon, peaches will litter the grass, to rot and annoy me. I must wipe the glass-top table and web chairs every morning if I intend to sit out there.

* * * *

The good finale

It’s a superlative spot to sit, that stone patio, when the sky is partly blue, the temperature is 75 at noon with a gentle June breeze, and the hummingbirds and butterflies are making rounds to the riot of bougainvillea, banana tree blooms, nopal flowers and anything else with a hint of tasty color.

I sit there amid the grass under the big brown umbrella with a book which usually gets closed swiftly because one cannot read and sufficiently appreciate the cool, clear air one inhales in this damp summertime world . . .

. . . making me sleepy.

So much better than the dust of spring, no matter the leaks.

And there are no mice. It is a joy.