FOR A FEW years, since I purchased my Canon, whenever I sat on the Jesus Patio to read my Kindle, I always toted the camera and rested it on the glass-top table.
One might wonder, Why does he do that? The answer is this: I wanted a photo of a hummer. Though the little buggers are commonplace in the Hacienda yard, photographing one has proved impossible. Till yesterday, that is.
The midday was overcast. Perhaps that explains my little friend’s relative lack of shimmering color, something often seen in hummer photos. Or maybe he’s a she and, like many birds, perhaps the hummer ladies are a bit drabber.
He (or she) is puffed up a bit too, a nippy afternoon.
No matter. Like Hemingway kneeling beside an African rhino, high-powered rifle aimed skyward, I have shot my prey. There will be no more safaris. I will read my books in peace.
IF IT’S NOT raining, I might sit around noon on a web chair by the glass-top table, shaded by the big, brown umbrella, feet atop another chair, for no better reason than pleasure.
I did that on Friday past.
I usually bring my Kindle and camera too in case a hummingbird sits a spell atop a nearby bloom. I’ve been hunting a shot, but when the hummers spot the camera, they zip away. When I don’t have the camera, they’ll come stare in my face.
The top shot was taken Friday when the yard needed a mow. The bottom two shots were taken yesterday after a mow.
I’ve had people ask me, “What’s up with the lawn? It doesn’t look like Mexico.” Well, the grass was mostly here when we bought the double lot. There’s wasn’t much else, but there was plenty of grass, an endless, freaking headache.
I’ve been telling myself for years that I’m uprooting all of it, or most of it, and laying down concrete and rock, but I never do it. Two reasons: the cost and the (temporary) mess.
But I feel steel in my spine. I’m more determined. Alas, the rainy season started last month, so the work cannot begin till November at the earliest, giving me months to change my mind.
But I’m not going to change my mind!
I’ve even worked out a plan. Do it gradually.
When the rains end, we’ll do most of the section in the photo at the very bottom, empedrado* only up to the Jesus Patio. Beyond the Jesus Patio — that’s the Jesus Patio where you see chairs and a table — a larger and far more elegant patio will be dreamed up to eliminate all of the grass in that area. Next year.
The yard is too large to be included in one photo. From the upstairs terraza, I can see more of it but not all, even from up there. It’s absurdly big. There is no backyard because the house is built against a corner of the double lot.
If I had been smarter, I would have built our house on half the space, facing the main drag, and another, a rental, facing the back street. There are two entries. But I was not smart.
I was a dumb Gringo in over his head.
But at least, gradually, I am now determined to resolve this grass curse.** Pray the steel stays in my spine till November.
I want to sit on the (much enlarged) Jesus Patio, which will need a new name, and gaze upon stone and cement, less grass.
Like the Reverend King: I have a dream.
* A surface of concrete and stone, very common in Mexico. The sidewalk is empedrado.
** A curse due to its lunatic growth during the five-month rainy season. You can never turn your back. You surely cannot travel anywhere more than a week.
(Note: Another grass section is to the right of the middle photo. It’s sizable but the smallest of the three sections. It’s where sit the monster bougainvillea and the towering nopal tree. It will be filled with stone and cement too, but not this year. The bougainvillea and nopal will stay in place.
ROUNDABOUTS noon on a spring day is the perfect time to sit in the yard with an electronic book.
If the natives have nothing to celebrate, which happens often enough, you’ll find a smooth calm. The air will be cool. The sky will be blue. The breeze will be blowing stiff enough to wiggle the wind chimes hanging in the nearby veranda.
At this hour the hummingbirds will be dining about the bottle-brush tree and so will butterflies. Sparrows will be chirping.
I’ll be sitting in a mesh chair next to the glass-top table, and I’ll be shaded from the sun, which grows a bit brutal in spring, by the big brown umbrella. It’s a good mix altogether.
Two things might disturb this scene. One is that I doze off, which is common, no matter how engaging the book. This does not affect the calm. It simply renders it moot for moments.
The other is that a freight train will blow by, but this lasts no longer than 60 seconds, and the calm returns. The butterflies and hummingbirds don’t seem to notice.
Even on a calm spring midday, I like the passing train especially since it’s brief. It sounds of vagabonds, a life that appealed back when I was very young.
This midday peace is broken when my child bride comes out of the house and says she’s ready to go to the restaurant.
I READ THE news on my Hewlitt Packard computer every morning, and it sits on my desk just below a large window that provides a beautiful view of my Mexican world.
The mountains are out there, of course, but so are massive flocks of birds, especially just after dawn. Many fly in large formations. Bigger birds, I’ve noticed, are more inclined to fly in formation than are smaller birds.
When did you last see a large formation of house sparrows? Likely never. House sparrows are independent cusses. Or a formation of hummingbirds. They stay too pissed off at one another to fly in formation.
It would just be a brawl.
But size is not the only factor. Some big birds do not fly in formation. Eagles and hawks shun formations. They are loners like me. You’ll not spot a Felipe formation in your lifetime.
Spring is near. It’s still quite cool here, but April and May will change that, the afternoons and early evenings at least. They get quite stuffy, worst time of the year.
It’s great seeing bird formations through this big window, and spectacular sunrises too. No matter the season.
CAPITALIST BEHEMOTH Amazon.com opened its Mexican operation just a few weeks ago, and I have received my first order, a camera and two avocado holders.
I am very happy about Amazon coming to Mexico. It’s about time. They went to China first: Amazon 点，圆点 com. Damnable.
The Amazon Mexico website looks like the Gringo version except for being written in Spanish and having prices in pesos, which is how it should be.
My primary interest in Amazon is for my Kindle. I’ve purchased books from the Gringo Amazon for years, seamlessly and effortlessly.
I checked the Mexican version and pleasantly discovered over a million books available in English. It appears to be about the same pile available on the Gringo version. There is one glitch that will keep me from switching entirely to the Mexican website. No magazine subscriptions.
I salute Jeff Bezos and welcome him to Mexico, a country that improves daily. We have superhighways, snazzy shopping malls, low taxes, a growing economy, liberty, and our citizens are not at one another’s throats screaming racism, homophobia, sexism, till our burros wander home.
We do not care a hoot about being multicultural or diverse.
Quite the contrary.
And we carry voter ID cards, laminated with our mugshots because we don’t want anybody to vote who’s not a genuine Mexican.
And now we have Amazon. We’ve totally arrived.
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(Related matter: My lovely new photo site, Eyes of the Moon, has changed format and grown, and I haven’t even figured out the new camera yet.)
(Unrelated matter: Please go here and lend a hand. I did. It will improve your karma. It all got started because she was trying to rescue a hummingbird.)
Partly cloudy day but plenty of blue above, I sit on the outdoor patio on a web chair, next to the glass-top table, feet up on another web chair, big brown umbrella keeping me in the shade. Cool air. Around noonish.
Objective: Read more of Henry Kissinger’s book On China. But, as often happens, I read nothing. I look at the flowers and fruit trees. There is a black-vented oriole in the fan palm. They are very skittish birds, so I must hold still. Leave the book on the table.
Someone starts playing a clarinet out back.
Two hummingbirds take umbrage, one with the other and then the other back again, in the vicinity of a purple bridal bouquet. That requires more of my attention. And then my eyes close as I listen to the clarinet. I doze, which was not my intention.
Time passes, and I feel a little chill. My eyes open to note clouds have blocked out the sun a moment. Gotta get up, I tell myself even though there is no reason to get up at all apart from feeling the little chill. I doze again.
Henry Kissinger must wait for another day. Or maybe this afternoon downtown on the plaza with an espresso.
This is how the unemployed live. If they get lucky.
I was in my 40s before I saw my first hummingbird in the feather.
That day sticks in my mind clearly. I was sitting on a porch at a Unitarian retreat center near Highlands, North Carolina. Yes, I used to hang out with Unitarians as I once hung out with the Democratic Party. I have given up on both. They tend to be one and the same.
Definition of Unitarians: People who have abandoned Christianity but can’t break the habit of going to church on Sunday. The first two times I married, it was a Unitarian minister who did the questionable deed. The third time was a Mexican judge.
Stick to Mexican judges. That’s my advice.
Well, anyway, I was sitting on that porch when a hummingbird flitted through the bushes in front of me. It was exciting since I had never seen one.
Nowadays, I am very familiar with hummingbirds. After that day in North Carolina, I installed hummingbird feeders in my yard in Houston, and enjoyed plenty of hummers during their annual migrations.
And now, here on the mountaintop, I have hummingbirds year-round, and I still love seeing them. Hummers have odd personalities. They are quite brave. They will fly right up to you, hover and stare boldly into your face.
And they loathe their own kind except, one imagines, when it’s hootchy-koochy time. If there’s no sex on the menu, the last thing a hummingbird wants to see is another hummingbird. It really pisses them off.
They are the Siamese fighting fish of flight.
What brings this to mind? I was just downstairs in a rocker on the terraza, enjoying the cool morning, when a hummingbird decided to sit a spell on an aloe vera branch just a few feet away. It never gets old, and it’s always fun.
Routines change. While I once spent time in the hammock on the upstairs terraza, I now have a new routine, one that happened on its own.
The urge builds till about noon. I have previously wiped the glass-top table and web chairs on the yard patio, a morning chore, so all is ready by midday.
Having completed my internet chores, our morning plaza walk for exercise, a nice warm shower, cereal and vitamins at 11, that is when I do it.
I walk out to the yard patio casual-like, as if I have no grand purpose. I tote the Kindle, a little reading time, I tell myself. I sit and I read.
But not for long. Doze is what I mostly do, and it’s easy these October days. The green yard envelops me. The flowers bewitch me. The cool air caresses my aging flesh. I don’t last long. It’s better than a park bench.
There was a moment yesterday that said it all. A good photographer with a fancy camera would have seized that moment and captured it.
Just a few feet from my nose, a hummingbird decided to sit atop a bird of paradise bloom, a lovely combo.
Luckily, I was not dozing. My eyes were open, and I told myself: What a great spot to live. How sweet not to have a job.
I am a lazy boy, and I like it.
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(Note: The wall in the photo sits in the yard. The ivy grows thicker and greener by the year. Ask the monkey and the swan.)