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.

Happy Ville

out
Happy Ville this very morning! Peach tree in foreground, winter foliage.

A FULL MOON hung over Happy Ville last night, but that’s not its lingering display through the peach branches at the top. That’s a new WiFi antenna.

Here at the Hacienda we woke in high spirits today, so we’ve temporarily — perhaps permanently — renamed our home Happy Ville or, if you prefer español, Villa Felíz.

But there was work to be done, as ever, and I’ve been doing it for days. It’s cutting back summer yard growth. If this is not done, things fly out of control.

I’ve whacked one of the two daturas back to the nub. Same for the roses, and reducing the towering nopal horizontally* is an ongoing chore. And I’ve removed a goodly number of fronds from the big, malicious maguey.

pile
Growing cull pile.

I’m dumping my culls out back in the Garden Patio. Already included are lots of aloe vera, the aforementioned maguey and assorted odds and ends. The pile will grow.

When I’m finished, I’ll hire Abel the Deadpan Yardman to wheelbarrow it down to the ravine out back.

* * * *

Morning Walk

It was such a lovely morning, I decided to take the longer route for my morning exercise walk. This took me to the far end of the barrio where, oddly, a snazzy, four-lane boulevard of cobblestone is being constructed.

One can enter our hardscrabble barrio principally from two directions. This is the direction we rarely use, mostly because it was a potholed nightmare.

This renovation is welcomed, but I wonder why it’s being done so elegantly. I mean, really, four lanes? This stretch is only about a quarter of a mile and funnels into another narrow, two-lane, cobblestone street.

second
Another two lanes planned for the left side. New sidewalks too!

It would have been sweet if they’d made this short boulevard just two lanes instead of four and used the leftover money to build a bicycle lane from here to downtown. We’ve written the mayor about that. He’s ignored us.

No matter. It’s another fine day at Happy Ville.

* * * *

* Trimming it vertically is out of the question now.

Moving days

THIS MORNING, 16 years ago, September 10, 2000, I awoke in my two-story rental downtown in the state capital. I had lived there alone more than three months.

The house was virtually unfurnished. There was a king bed with a side table in the master bedroom. A second bedroom upstairs had a double and side table.

There was a rocking chair in the living room, nothing more. A large table with chairs in the kitchen-dining room, a propane stove-top, no oven whatsoever, and a refrigerator.

That was it on the furniture front.

It was moving day! My second in eight months.

Before moving to that home, I had lived in a room above a garage, just a few blocks away, for four months. So this virtually vacant home was a step up in comfort and grace.

No matter. I was moving again.

But first I had to rent a car to tote the accumulations of the previous eight months. It would be the first time I would drive on the loco streets of Mexico. I was nervous.

Later that day, car lightly loaded, I headed up the mountainside where I had rented a two-story house that was poorly maintained and pathetically furnished.

The first necessity was a new mattress. The house had one, but it wasn’t anything you’d want to lie down on.

I also ordered a dark green love seat and matching chair that would be shipped from Guadalajara. That arrived four long months later. Mexican express.

That sofa and chair now live in the Hacienda’s bedroom.

chairs

I lived in that rental for two and a half years, the last year of which I enjoyed the company of my child bride while we constructed the Hacienda a couple of miles away.

We moved into the Hacienda 14 years back next May. It’s quite a step up from the room over the garage where I slept on a sagging twin bed that was fond of tossing its slats, leaving me sprawled rudely on the floor. Ker-splat!

It’s been quite an adventure, the best of my life. The mountaintop has been good to me, 16 years today.

In many ways, it all seems like yesterday. But gazing ahead, 16 more years looks like another life.

It likely will be. Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

In summertime I often pause before sunrise at the small, eye-level (for me) window in the bathroom and smell the golden datura just inches away. A good way to start the day.

At times in summer it’s raining gently.

My next move will be into an ash urn. And I won’t need to pack a suitcase for the journey.

A winter shot

window

datura

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a season makes. The top shot is through our bedroom window this week. The lower one is the view through the same window in rainy summer.

A sharp eye will detect the butchered trunk of the golden datura in the topmost photo. Datura, like the banana, takes winter very badly, and must be whacked back yearly.

But it’s an enthusiastic, stubborn plant and swiftly returns in springtime, giving us quite a view from the bedroom on our perfect summertime mornings.