Monday, July 25, 2016

The Birds and The Bees and Flush Toilets

The Birds and The Bees and Flush Toilets
            Every morning at first light a symphony of birds sings me awake. I don’t say it’s necessarily pretty birdsong. The New York Philharmonic it is not. But it is loud. And it is a mixture of voices of whatever birds are hanging out in this part of the state at any particular time. Perhaps a better description is of musicians tuning their instruments prior to the performance. Tuning takes a good hour. At full light each singer flies off to greet the day with its perfect song.

At any one time I look out my windows and see dozens of birds, a bouquet of variety. I wish to know their names. Some I can narrow down to the general family with my “Birds of Mexico”; sort of like, “That one looks like an Ashton but I’m not sure which branch of the family.”

Spring segues into summer. Babies learn to fly and forage; parents shamelessly make more babies. Baby hummingbirds, tiny bits of color, whirr from flower to flower.

Speaking of shameless, I wish you could have seen the rabbits last night, a type of cottontail. They raced over the brick walls of the planters, around the yard in crazy circles, he chasing she, within a meter of my feet, stopped, decided I was friend rather than foe, and continued on their zig-zag chase.

Every morning at first light I race out to gather avocados fallen from my tree before the squirrels find them. Squirrels chew a hole through the flesh in search of the nut in the middle. I keep the ones in best shape, dole them out to my neighbors, keep one for myself and share the rest with the squirrels. Today I gathered avocados, key limes and bananas and cilantro, all within yards of my door.

Lizards and iguanas abound. My personal backyard iguana, who hangs out in a drain pipe, tolerates my presence. Yesterday I surprised Iggy on my patio, nosing my rosemary. Surely iguanas don’t eat rosemary. He gulps hibiscus flowers like they are ice-cream cones. Baby lizards streak by everywhere I look. Lizards, iguanas? Who can tell at that size? Except for the neon green variety, unmistakably lizard.

I saw my first tarantula. That was exciting. Just a baby. “They are shy, don’t bother them and they won’t bother you,” both Leo and Josue tell me. Uh, huh. Okay.

My new neighbors and good friends for many years, Kathy and Richard from British Columbia, flew in for a few days to take possession of their new home, around the corner from me. They are discarding things right and left, going through the whole process like I did, making lists of what they need to bring when they drive back next fall.

We make the most of our together time, sharing meals, long conversations. I’m the “ground-breaker”, they say. My experiences help and guide them. For example, I’m so pleased with my solar water heater, with the boiling hot water it produces. I’ve related my story in great detail, how I needed a new tenaco and then a new propane tank and then a new water heater—but wait!

Both Leo and Josue, my helpers, convinced me to consider a solar water heater. I will recoup installation costs in a year. My propane usage, limited to cooking, is minimal. It may take me a full year to use the amount of propane I previously used every two months. And my water heater, powered solely (pun intended) by the sun, is environmentally friendly. I’m on the cutting edge. Leading the parade. Kathy and Richard have decided to get the same system.

Josue is building (It’s a process!) a new septic system and drain field for my friends, scheduled to be done before they arrived last week. However, Abel, the concrete man (his job, not his description) was delayed and then the monsoon rains dropped out of the sky to create further delay. They have partial use of their system but my friends pop in and out of my house for bathroom and showers.  Their bathroom should be fully functional by this evening.

Meanwhile, my bathroom is supposed to be disabled this afternoon in preparation for new floor tile, a new toilet, and eventually, a new sink cabinet. In a turn-around, I shall be running next door to become acquainted with any quirks in my friends’ bathroom. Good friends cheerfully share the flushes of life.  

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

June 30, 2016

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