The green life

plant

THIS PLANT is about five inches across. It shares a brightly painted, oval, ceramic pot out on the ledge of the veranda with a few other gems of nature.

You see, I’m not just an internet polemicist, I’m an amateur gardener. Lucky for me, gardening here is mostly a matter of digging a hole and sticking something in that hole.

Then all you must do is stand back and wait. This is the sort of gardening I favor. Low effort.

This is ideal for me because I’m not merely an amateur gardener, I’m a lazy gardener. Sometimes it’s so easy that I commit errors in that I plant things I should not plant.

I know I’ve planted something I should not have planted — or quite often that my wife should not have planted because she horns into my territory now and then, creates problems and flees — when it turns into a major headache.

Over this winter, I have eliminated a great amount of greenery that should not have been planted at all. Being a lazy gardener, I get Abel the deadpan neighbor to do the hard part of chopping down and uprooting and toting away.

As reported previously, two of the three stands of banana trees have been eliminated. Not previously reported was a huge, climbing thing that was elbowing the fern on the Alamo Wall and creeping through the roof tiles of one carport.

An identical beast was in a far corner where I periodically had to chop it back to keep it from invading the neighbor’s farm shed. I favor neighborliness even if the neighbors do not.

The upshot of this year’s cutbacks is that there is more open space out in the yard. I wonder what I can fill it with?

Good and green

summerSUMMER STARTS on June 21, so we’re still in Springtime or, as my Mexican paisanos call it, Primavera.

We step outside each morning with long pants and a light jacket. It will be about 60 degrees. It’ll soar to the mid-70s at midday. Invariably I think of folks I left behind in the sweat pits of Houston and New Orleans.

We sleep at night with only half of one window open to avoid having to pile blankets atop us. We have no air-conditioning, of course, because that would be downright silly. Not much heating either.

Most of the greenery in the photo was planted by me a decade back, and they were just little tykes. When I planted little tykes in Houston, they usually stayed that way or died. I’ve yet to figure that out.

There is some horticultural magic in the Mexican air. You expect that on the tropical coasts, but it seems less likely here on the cool mountaintop 7,000 feet above sea level.

Most spring and summer mornings are similar. I eat a bagel and Philly cheese. I sweep the terraza and pick up the cursed peaches that have fallen overnight from their tree. I wipe dew or rain off the glass table and web chairs that sit on the yard patio, and I hoist the umbrella like a flag.

I take a deep breath, smile and walk back inside to wash the Philly cheese off the ceramic plates we purchased years ago in Dolores Hidalgo. Maybe do a little laundry. Take a shower, get dressed.

Life doesn’t change much. Nor do I want it to.

* * * *

While the above is a typical morning, I detoured a bit today.

At 8 a.m., I was parked outside the little lab downtown as the young nurse opened for business. It was time for the twice-yearly peek into my blood vessels and veins, to see how the old coot is getting along.

I check my cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides.

No appointment is necessary, no doctor’s permission. Just show up, fork over 18 bucks (would have been 10 if I’d waited for the sale next week), step into the adjoining room, roll up my sleeve and wince.

The results will be available this afternoon. I’m feeling fine, but you can put in a positive word with the Goddess on my behalf. It won’t hurt.

Kindness to birds

birdNO VISIT TO San Miguel de Allende is complete without a drive north to Dolores Hidalgo, one of Mexico’s primary sources of talavera ceramics.

We purchased a few items during our recent San Miguel Holiday, and here you see the major attraction, a bird bath.

This is quite a leg up for our birds. For years, they had a bath on this very spot. It was a carved, rotted tree trunk with a dull, brown ceramic bowl sitting on top. Nothing to look at, but the birds loved it.

The beautiful baby costs the peso equivalent of just 30 bucks, one of the best reasons to visit Mexico and Dolores Hidalgo if you’re hunting lovely, ceramic things. I hope the birds find it to their taste.

The tower view

View

ATOP THE LAVATORY of the kitchen/storefront under construction out near the street is a space enclosed by brick that will house the water tank. We have dubbed that high spot la torre, the tower.

I ascended by ladder yesterday, camera in hand, and was pleased by perspectives I’d never seen before. Above, you see the Hacienda house. Long-time passersby know that I’m inordinately fond of bragging on this place that we designed ourselves on graph paper in 2002. We hired no architect.

We’ve had fun decorating it over the years (I am an artiste!) and I was amused when John Calypso once commented that the living room looks like the lobby of a Turkish hotel.

That ivy-covered wall is stone. Its top is formed in the shape of the Alamo, and it was my idea to build it there to block the view toward the house from Nosy Parkers in the street when the main gate is open.

The orange edifice at the far right is the third story of the sex motel next door, its laundry room. If you click on the photo, it should get larger. That smoke at the rear is from the kiln of a family business that makes clay roof tiles. It’s farther away than it appears here. They made the tiles of our house way back when.

The yellow paint around the upstairs terraza is fresh, part of the work the construction crew has already done unrelated to the kitchen/storefront. Our second story is basically one huge room though it also has a walk-in closet and a bathroom with shower. The left-most window is where my desk and computer sit.

Downstairs, the window nearest you, is the bedroom. It’s the only actual bedroom in the house. We also have a bed upstairs for emergencies, but that big space is more than a bedroom. It houses my “office” in the corner, a gym set, two recliners and a nice Samsung TV for watching Netflix. The room isn’t cramped, due to its size.

At the right side of the archway entrance downstairs, a sharp eye will detect a stalk growing out of a tequila maguey. That stalk ascends higher than the second story of the house. I see it directly outside the window above my computer screen, and it’s a favored sitting spot in the mornings for a couple of black-vented orioles.

Things grow like mad here at 7,200 feet ASL. That fan palm behind the ceramic swan atop the wall is huge, and I planted it years ago when it was a tyke in a plastic pot. Same goes for the nopal tree at the far right and the yellow-green maguey to the left and the monster aloe vera a bit more to the left.

I planted them all when they were about the size of my hand. Stuff never grew like this back in Houston even though the climate is not all that different if you don’t count that Houston summers are far hotter.

That red wall you see extending to the orange property wall at the left, rear, is just a barrier I had built a few years after we moved in. It simply hides what I now call the Garden Patio. It has a concrete floor beneath which is a 9,000-liter cistern, another large above-ground water tank, and it’s where I keep yard gear.

It appears to have a tile roof, but that’s actually a neighbor’s house across the street back there.

The tower also provides an interesting view of the street out front. I should have photographed that too. I was going to shoot it this morning, but there’s too much fog. Maybe mañana. I want to get this item into the mail.