Facing springtime with trepidation

fruit
Banana trees making their annual comeback after being whacked back to nubs.

WITH LUCK, winter and its too-frequent overnight freezes is behind us, not officially, of course. That happens later this month.

As challenging as winter can be — we have no reliable heating system — the real bear is springtime, specifically the months of April and May. It gets stuffy in the house in the evenings, particularly upstairs where we wind down the day with Netflix and munch our salads in recliners like old people.

As we have no reliable heating system, we have no cooling system whatsoever. Of course, the upside to this situation is that our electric bills year-round are the peso equivalent of about ten U.S. bucks per month.

Bet you’re not feeling sorry for us now, huh?

Sometimes in the evenings of April and May it gets so stuffy upstairs that we turn off Netflix early and flee downstairs where it’s always cooler due mostly to the considerably higher ceilings, especially in the living room.

We have a fancy ceiling fan in the bedroom that we only installed about five years ago. Aside from looking elegant, it does squat. It’s only usable at the lowest speed because higher speeds make lots of racket, and that interferes with sleep.

Last year I said: I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not taking it anymore. Just before the cooling, summer rains arrived, I purchased one of those tower fans that sits on the floor. It does all manner of fancy stuff, but it’s still a fan. We’ll use that downstairs instead of the elegant ceiling fan.

That leaves the more serious problem of upstairs. A fan helps, but not much. I’m going to buy one of those “coolers,” which appears to be a fan with some sort of water system. Some you can even drop ice into them somehow.

Buy a room air-conditioner, you say? No way, José. It would murder our electricity bill. I’m assuming the cooler won’t do that, and if it does, it won’t be as bad.

I’d never heard of these coolers till last year when I noticed them in our only department store here on the mountaintop. The store is Coppel, a Mexican chain. I’m leaning toward a cooler made by Symphony. If you have any experience with coolers, I’d like to hear it.

Meanwhile, spring inches closer. The grass, in spite of some rare winter rainfalls, is turning brown and crunchy. I took the photo above this morning. The banana trees are making their annual comeback. They’ll grow high, eight to ten feet.

I used to have three batches of banana trees, but I had two removed and the area cemented. Otherwise, the bananas would have returned like the living dead. Below is a rock-and-concrete table where a batch of overbearing bananas lived for years.

esquina
This mesa is about 15 inches high. No bananas can break through that, amigo.

Feel of fall

WHEN I LIVED in America, October was my favorite month.

serveimageSome folks love the arrival of spring. I imagine most of them live in the frozen north. But I loved the arrival of not just autumn but October.

October has a distinct sensation even though fall arrives in late September. I lived 98 percent of my 55 years above the Rio Bravo in spots that sweltered in summer, so the arrival of autumn was a blessing, a relief, a sigh.

Where I live now we do not swelter in summer, so the transition to autumn is not such a big deal. Our big deal is the move from occasionally unpleasant, bone-dry spring to cooler, wetter summertime.

But the feel of Gringo fall stays with me, and I felt it today for the first time this year. It’s a feeling that’s difficult to put into words, but you know it when it touches you.

I was on the upstairs terraza sweeping this morning, taking advantage of the fact that most of the floor was dry because it did not rain yesterday or last night either.

And I said to myself: This feels like fall, and it did.

I love it.

The orchid peach

AND ONWARD we slog through the overly warm afternoons and evenings of May.

Praying for rain.

But there are fun distractions. One is the orchid peach. It’s my own invention.

Here’s the recipe: Take one peach tree. Any tree will do, but I use peach. It’s out there.

Tie orchid bases to the peach tree. That’s Step Two. Patience is Step Three. Most of the year, they just hang there, but in Springtime they bloom.

These orchids grow wild in the area, attaching themselves to trees — they’re parasites — and in Springtime, vendors walk the streets and stand beside highways, selling them.

I try to purchase at least one a year.

They can grow high, making it difficult to grab them. Once, a couple of years ago, a tall part of a tree on our main plaza broke off and thundered to the sidewalk. Nobody was hurt.

But the hunk of tree lying on the sidewalk was chockablock with blooming orchids. People went at them like a pack of wolves. I happened by after most of the orchids were plucked.

Darn!

This year I purchased yellow, a first. All the previous orchids on my peach tree had been pink. You like a little variety in your orchids, color-wise.

The blooms in the photo look a little weary. That’s because they first erupted weeks ago, and they’re just about pooped out for this season. You can see my new yellow one.

The orchid peach. My own invention.

Patent Pending. Or not.

Time for lime

MAY IS THE warmest month of the year here, some might even call it hot, depending on where you’re standing.

In the evenings, upstairs at the Hacienda where, alas, live the Samsung Smart TV and the computers, it can get unpleasant in the late afternoon and early evening.

It’s even been known to chase us downstairs prematurely when we’re trying to relax with Netflix.

And, of course, we have no air-conditioning because 99 percent of the time, it’s not necessary.

Most of downstairs, however, never gets hot due to the high ceiling in the living room. In the bedroom, which has a somewhat lower ceiling, it gets a bit stuffy at times.

We have a ceiling fan in the bedroom, the sole ceiling fan at the Hacienda if you don’t count the fan in the ceiling of my child bride’s pastry kitchen, which stands apart.

May is our worst month. There is the “heat,” the dust, the dead grass in the  yard. May is just a period that one must endure  in order to enjoy the other 11 months.

One way we endure May is by making limeade.

The first limeades of 2017 were made this morning, a little tardy this year due to this May’s being somewhat less stuffy than the average. We’ve been lucking out.

That’s our limeade station in the photo. One nice limeade requires three limes, three tablespoons of barroom sweetener, water and ice. That’s it. Stir and serve.

Those limes are called lemons down here, limones. What the Gringos call lemons are rarely seen. The yellow things.

Doesn’t matter. Limes do the trick. Every May. Until it starts raining daily in early June.

Then you don’t hanker for limeade anymore.