summertime, and the livin’ is easy in San Miguel

Summer in San Miguel always makes us wax poetic, but we won’t torture you with our efforts at poesy. Best look to our favorite bard:

 summertime, and the livin is easy in San Miguel

picking flowers

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

–ee cummings


 summertime, and the livin is easy in San Miguel

san miguel countryside, late summer

Summer has arrived in San Miguel … and here come our glorious afternoon rains (and many little birds.)

If you want to see wildflowers (which are all over the place, but incredible in the park behind the botanical gardens) come in August or September…

Tell me again, why aren’t you here?

chirp, chirp,

Casita de las Flores
www.CasitaDeLasFlores.com

San Miguel de Allende’s One and Only Fantabulous B&K (bed and kitchen)

six-month check in. may, 2001

It’s All About the Egg.

(The Prequel to The Casita Story)

I wrote this nearly a decade ago, just four months before finding the house (and immense project) that would keep me very, very busy and eventually become Casita de las Flores…I hope this little blog provides encouragement to those who dream about turning over a new tree. (Do it!!)

egg2 six month check in. may, 2001

Always nurture your egg. And may the Force be with you.

 

May, 2001

I’m sitting in the hammock listening to the birds.

So many birds.

I’ve never lived in the country before, so I really had no idea about the birds. Watching a woodpecker peck (first time I’ve seen one outside of Woody in the cartoons). Feeling a dreamy, lethargic peace at 3:25 on a warm but overcast silent saturday afternoon. Thinking (not too hard) of what I really should be doing, other than sitting in the hammock, listening to the birds, watching the woodpecker peck.

I’m a world away from my life in the US, where, on the rare occasion that I couldn’t think of what I should be doing, my impatient mind immediately and urgently intruded to suggest the next vitally important task—one in a long, long list of vitally important tasks to be done.

But here in my rented yard outside of San Miguel, my mind simply wanders over my rather lazy day.

My mother claims that, if you’re lucky, you can accomplish one real thing a day in Mexico. I’ve proved her wrong a thousand or so times already, but I’ve come to realize that sometimes it’s actually good for you to accomplish only one thing in a day.

This morning, I continued the house search. Went and looked at a tiny, extremely funky house for sale, for which the owners had decided on a firm, absurdly high price—despite having no idea of the place’s square footage, and despite the fact that the “house” is in need of tons (of tons) of work…stucco on the walls, for starters.

There. That’s one (attempt at) productive activity. Ah, yes…I also got an email from a friend I haven’t connected with since I left the States six months ago.

Six months. Half a year of a new life.

“Aha,” comes a quiet voice through the languid afternoon haze. “Write,” it says. So here I am, on the page. (Well, on the laptop, in the hammock.)

I admit, I’ve been having guilty type-A thoughts lately—I haven’t been doing enough. I’ve been “wasting time.” Nearly six months of time! What will become of me??!! Ack.

But then my friend in the States writes about how great my life seems—having the time to do the things I love—painting, photography, gardening, writing, yoga, dancing, hammock roosting.

Living.

Suddenly, even though I am lazing in the garden, I feel as if my life is, actually, productive. Every now and then, life should simply be about living.

Yes, of course, I am a bit poor, financially speaking (except for my tiny nest egg). And I have no real prospects (yet). But my life is rich, isn’t it?

Rich in butterflies (plenty of the stomach kind, but mostly the insect kind): Small black flutterers with cobalt and crimson spots gleaming in the sun. A few huge white lovelies sailing calmly by, and the occasional stately orange and black Monarch.

Rich in flora: Nasturtium, spinach, and forget-me-not seedlings standing as tall as they can, just a few days out of the earth. (Am I, perhaps, a seedling, just six months out of new earth?)

A miniature broccoli forest coming up. Infant zucchini boldly protruding from under wide, variegated, sun-catching leaves. Tomato plants freely offering up the pointy yellow flowers that portend juicy red fruit. Cheeky little adolescent lettuces. (There is so much hope and bravery in a new garden, not to mention many happy salads to come.)

Rich in feathered friends: Noisy, rat-tat-tat woodpeckers. Mournful doves mooning about. Haughty orange orioles lounging in the branches. Huge bickering blackbirds squabbling on the ground. Tiny, blindingly scarlet birdlets lingering in the purple Jacaranda blooms. And of course, many busy little jewel-colored hummingbirds zooming from blossom to blossom.

Perhaps I was a hummingbird in my first-world life? Not jewel-colored, so much as pale beige, but buzzing frenetically from duty to duty…

Maybe. But now what am I? Not a seedling, not a hummingbird. A hen, perhaps. (Colorful now—yes!) Sitting—roosting on my little egg of potential, my potential egg—doing apparently nothing, but thinking, dreaming, and scheming, waiting for my future to hatch.

Unemployed, yes. Poor-ish, yes. But I am so very rich in one of the great bounties Mexico has to offer: Time.

Time to play at painting the Virgen de Guadalupe. Time to tinker on the guitar (I can now play Greensleeves—if I had a phone, Carnegie Hall would SO be calling). Time for the joys of photography (which literally means “writing with light”). And, most of all, time to write (with light, ink or pixels). To muse, to jot, to scribble. Attempting to get to know myself and my newish surroundings though black marks on a white page/screen.

My doubts seem to dissolve, and, for once (or twice),  I actually know I am doing fine.

Sure, I have no foreseeable way to make a living in Mexico (to be “secure”), but I am fine. Really fine. Finer than frog hair, as my father always says. (It took me almost twenty years of hearing that expression before I got it—“Wait,” she finally says to herself, “Frogs don’t have hair…ohhhh.”) And so, despite my lack of the career-building activities most people in my former Stateside life deem to be essential to a sense of self, my self seems to be fine. Finer than…iguana hair.

Six months into this Mexican adventure of indeterminate length, I sit and look back. Not literally back at the towering Mesquite tree that supports the north end of my hammock, but back at the months of stress and preparation for leaving my conventional life up North, half a year ago:

Quit job. Finish thesis. Jump through all the right hoops to graduate. Sort through 20 or so years of accumulated stuff (the pack rat’s instant karma). Have two massive garage sales and still give a driveway full of stuff to a charitable organization. Fall in love at the last-possible, most-insane minute, and leave man and town and country behind anyway, because it had to be done (because it was my future, my egg).

Then:

Drive 2000 miles in a car filled to the gills with Mom, pets and my carefully-packed belongings (60% books)—still, somehow, so very much stuff.

Arrive at new, Mexican home. Unpack, organize, play house and play in the garden. Survive while distance smothers a fledgling relationship. Live in near-total isolation for four months while trying to find a foothold in what was once, long ago, Home—the place I grew up. Get to know (again) the town, the language, the lifestyle, and the birds. And then, finally, blossom once again into the world of humankind.

So very much can happen in six short months.

Did I make the right decision? To leave almost everything (material) behind for a brave/insane new adventure in a foreign country? Definitely. (I mostly think.) Of course, it has been very difficult, at times, to have sacrificed security and a nice, reliable paycheck for the unknown. But the benefits are manifold, not the least of which is the time to simply sit in the hammock and think. And tend to my egg.

Ten Year Check-In, May, 2011

Forgot how to play Greensleves on the guitar, but learned how to play it on the Piano. Not painting at the moment, but still crazy in love with photography. Accomplish a multitude of tasks on most days, but still spend the occasional lazy Saturday pondering in my new hammock in my new garden. (And even manage to write now and then.)

What I didn’t know then was that Casita de las Flores, which turns ten next year (!), would change my life in so many ways: providing me with a life-sized art project, meaningful work, lots of new friends, and even a decent income, eventually.

Best of all, a decade later, I am still rich—not so much in money, though I am a wee bit more secure—but in time (and birds and butterflies and seedlings). Yet, I find I’m roosting yet again, sitting on that good old future egg, wondering what comes next.

Here’s to you, adventurers—don’t let the unknown keep you down. And take really good care of that egg.

Wishing you love and lots of great eggs,

Casita de las Flores
www.CasitaDeLasFlores.com

 

 

 

egg21 150x150 six month check in. may, 2001

Always nurture your egg.

Summer in San Miguel

img 19801 Summer in San Miguel

Weather’s ideal, wish you were here.

Well, the weather here is so perfect, it’s approaching obscene. The monsoon rains finally started a few weeks ago, but we’ve gotten a week or so off. Many glorious, not-too-hot, sunny technicolor-blue-sky days. And the clouds—elaborate white confections floating benignly above. Ahhhhh. Never happy, of course, we locals now start itching for the standard afternoon downpours, whose drama squeegees the soul and leaves our world brand new.

Global weirding is taking its toll. Used to be you could set your watch by the summer clouds. From late June ‘til early September, at four p.m. on the dot, the sky would suddenly turn deepest, darkest grey and open up, making rivers of streets, dropping temperatures by at least ten degrees, and stranding visitors and locals alike under the arches around the Jardin. (I once lost my flip-flops trying to cross Umaran Street in a July downpour. They just sped down the hill, little black speedboats on the stream. Being in a hurry in Mexico never seems to work.)

Now the weather’s a bit quirky. Last year, we had a mini-winter in July. Grey skies and rain all day and most of the night for a couple of weeks. It got cold(ish). (We may be in Central Mexico, but at 6,000 feet, the sun has a lot to do with the general balminess.)

This year, however, has been gorgeous. We’ve gotten a good amount of rain and lots of cerulean skies—but nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen each day. We look up at the sky, gauging the clouds’ intentions. We wonder whether or not to water the garden, wash the coche. “Can I leave the sweater at home?” We ask ourselves. “Or will an afternoon shower leave me shivering under an arch somewhere?”

We’re also still waiting for our usual freak summer hailstorm, which leaves trees denuded, cars in full leaf, and the streets looking like a blizzard passed. For ten minutes, you can see your breath. Then, the sun comes out again, the ice is gone as quickly as it came and we have yet another glorious sunset.

Such is Summer in San Miguel: fickle, dramatic, beautiful.

Meanwhile, absolutely everything is blooming. The bougainvillea has gone berserk. Red, gold and fuchsia flowers tumble everywhere. The Huele de Noche (smells-at-night) Jasmine drenches the courtyard with scent. Birds are chirping and procreating like the world’s about to end. Butterflies and hummingbirds abound. Tree leaves are all shiny and the air is clean and golden enough to rival the South of France. (Even the omnipresent Mexican dust has taken a hiatus.) Our avocados are ripening, turning dark, plump and yummy. In the campo, the wildflowers are rioting, ahead of schedule.

The ubiquitous fecundity is contagious—even the bricks in the patio are sprouting green, while the high Mexican desert does its best Hawaii impersonation. The nights are blacker, the stars brighter, and the moonlight is blinding. Even peoples’ dreams are running riot, sending out tendrils that snake into waking life and bear fruit.

Tell me again, why aren’t you here?

xo,

Casita de las Flores B&K (Bed and Kitchen
www.casitadelasflores.com
Your best value (and most fun) alternative to
expensive San Miguel de Allende hotels and B&B’s

__________

This just in: in the couple of days that I procrastinated posting this, we’ve had a wonderful all-night rain, complete with a temporary brown-out. (always entertaining) And today, at four on the dot, it sprinkled while the sun shone. As I write, the sky is grumbling—another delicious rainy night may be on its way. And tomorrow will be glorious.