Saturday, January 28, 2012

Another Weeding Marathon

Another weeding marathon underway
I sift the soil for dark brown roots
no thicker than IV sharps
topside budding 
curled translucent fingers extinguishing 
gravity for light to manufacture 
chlorophyll leaf by branching vine
to climb & twine & strangle
prickly pear heedless of spines
not that vines stop cactus 
or portulaca or creeper grass
because desert denizens bear with en-
tanglements though our plants
coreopsis & pineapple sage 
& daylilies might not.
Portulaca oleracea, purslane, verdolaga

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rainy Times

This morning the clouds are low, the sky leaks damp, terú-terús,
doves, & dragonflies seek the freshly weeded patches, taste the earth.

The morning’s bright heat ebbs to solid white in the east,
moving black in the west, & a dust-devil wind
that rises to rattle the doors.

By mid-morning we’d weeded the Internet up & running, by mid-afternoon
we’d weeded up a thunderstorm that dampened the turned earth.

Afternoons the winds blow, sometimes fiercely, & outdoors in bright sun
or mottled by clouds moving east, the veranda rockers idly rock.

Blackened cloud, knock-down breeze, thunder’s metal, lightning’s tease,
drop scatter across the big window: outcome’s no more than a flutter.

Rumbled by thunder, menaced by gray, drenched now by wind-blown rain,
the crew unrolls the heavy black plastic to turn a hole into a pond.

After brief strong rain & a full house, suddenly we find ourselves alone
with open doors admitting the mild sweet air, the benteveo’s song.

I hadn’t seen a swallow for days before the dark clouds in the southeast,
the heavy rain, the window leaks, the end-to-end double rainbow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sunday Random

Movement alerts us to a hare springing from giant brindled haunches,
pausing to graze on alfalfa & weedy greens, dissolving in long grass.

A white monjita lands on a prickly pear, another on a wooden stake
rigged to an olive tree: sites with fragrance of ripening fruit & views.

We cycle through swarms of tiny black insects: every immersion
flecks our shirtfronts, arms, & thighs, catches Mike’s watering eyes.

Yesterday large ants gnawed the gardenias until Mike sprayed poison
fatal to the ants’ algae farms: today the foiled workers are gone.

One tree per day, I say, my promise to pull the giant weeds surrounding
each staked trunk, crowding the watering holes: Mike & I weed two.

I fill two banged-up construction wheelbarrows with large & small rocks 
I’ve dug while weeding, rocks to border our future vegetable plots.

Despite our plan for a rest day, we’ve biked, weeded, tested outlets,
repaired curtain rods, watered, hauled rocks: As always, we’re tired.

Besides, we’ve talked to each other more than usual: it’s what happens 
when the Internet’s down: we’re forced to spend time in the real world.

Lepus europaeus, European hare, liebre común

Xolmis iripero, white monjita, monjita blanca

these wheelbarrows proved too heavy to move

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Argentine Gopher

I need a mesh to sift my yellow stones from tucu-tucu’s mound
of grubbed-up sand. So sharp, its ever sprouting teeth, its shoveling toes. 

What’s the world record for distance dug? Miles mounded? Have tucu-tucus
caverns between their tunnels? Birthing places? Garbage dumps?

I love nature, but what if tucu-tucus drill through our house’s walls? 
Tomorrow I might wake up to concrete rubble beside our bed.

Mike, who rips off grasshopper heads & gouges wood-boring beetles
from overhead beams, is threatening mayhem – shotgun or pitchfork.

Decades ago I woke at dawn to noise on the roof outside a room in my  
brother's home. Naked & gunning for gopher, he aimed a twenty-two.

Tucu-tucu, I’m warning you, keep to the open sand beyond our lot.
You’re better light through my camera lens than dead meat on Mike’s tines.

Ctenomys argentinus, tucu-tucu

Friday, January 6, 2012

Montevideo -> Buenos Aires on New Year's day

On New Year's day we checked out of Montevideo's Austral Hotel (highly recommend, soft pillows, Internet in room) & taxied to Tres Cruces, the Montevideo bus station qua mall, which two days earlier had been a hive of travelers & shoppers, on this day though, deserted, the shops closed. We were relieved to find a staffer at the counter of Colonia Express, with whom we had tickets for the bus & ferry ride back to Buenos Aires.

display in Montevideo bus station

No problem. We checked in, checked our email (free slow wireless @ Tres Cruces), then hiked a few blocks with our heavy rollers & backpacks to one of the few restaurants open on New Year's morning. Unfortunately, they had not much more than mediocre empanadas. Back at the bus station, we checked our bags for Buenos Aires & climbed to the upper story of a large bus for a two-hour ride to the city of Colonia, which is west & a little bit north of Montevideo. Not much to see during the ride. Rolling green hills. No traffic.

Colonia ferry waiting area

Colonia is said to be a beautiful old city, but the bus passed through none of that on its way to the port. The ferry was due to depart in an hour. We watched it arrive in plenty of time, a much smaller boat than we expected, but, no surprise in Latin America, we all stood in line for nearly an hour waiting for an official to allow us to board. No explanations, just waiting.

entering the port of Buenos Aires

The ride was brief & eventless. A small ferry on a brown river. A can of Quilmes beer. Then lots of boats in port at Buenos Aires, including a huge casino boat. We disembarked, collected our luggage, & walked out with a large crowd of people all looking for taxis. Not a single taxi. Most folks queued up. We headed out to the avenues & flagged a taxi within five or ten minutes for the ride to our Palermo Soho hotel (will remain nameless, a hotel to forget). Also a quiet city on this holiday. Fortunately, we later found a local neighborhood parilla where we ate good steak & salad for cheap.

The most difficult thing about walking in an Argentine city is dog shit. It's every few feet on every sidewalk. You watch your step. You try not to notice the stench. In spite of the fine weather, we ate dinner inside the restaurant.

freshly weeded patches

This morning the clouds are low, the sky leaks damp, terú-terús,
doves, & dragonflies kiss the freshly weeded patches, taste the earth.