Yesterday I walked down the road past our Colonia to the restaurant La Providencia. As usual, mixed with sometimes zooming cars and motos and bikes were pedestrians and runners and exercisers singly and in clumps: as I’ve said before, it is the neighborhood gym and track and ambling path. And traveling route for horses and burros laden with grass or wood or lumpy sacks or riders. It was messy as usual with the detritus of the humans: plastic bags and bottles and old shoe soles and an occasional condom; Pop-out pill containers, and bottle caps and broken tile used as road fill; notes and messages and receipts obscured and torn by footsteps of passersby.
But it would be wrong if you let this basura, this garbage, overwhelm your idea of this walk. The colors were so clean and pure: blue sky, puffy white and gray clouds, shades of green and orange and yellow and brown. The red orange butterflies with red-orange wings framed in black which had swirled across the roads just a few days ago have dwindled, but others are taking over: some tannish-beige ones with fine black tracings that make their wings look like old lace, bright, big yellow ones, tiger-striped long-winged ones, and at last some Ana’s 88s, my favorites. Tiny lizards slither fast into the grass, and black caterpillars pause, risking their lives on the tarmac.
And of course there are the birds: the ones you can see soaring on the wind, and those chattering in branches and ones you catch sight of strictly by chance as they rest a minute here or there. Grackles, by the way, cluster in huge crowds sometimes and can talk or sing or chatter in a variety of tones and voices. They seem to care about each other. When a mob lands in our branches, Jim bangs pots and they all swoop away. They try again, and then they stop trying for awhile. I think sometimes one bird hangs around to give returning bunches a warning. Grackles also have tail feathers that stick up perpendicular to the ground and when they fly, their tails stay that way looking like airplane tails. To continue this diversion, this tangent, this is the second year we’ve had two small and plump social flycatchers visit us. They hang out on the balcony rail or perch on our nopales or plants. They used to try to get into the house banging against the window, but they’ve learned just to brush against it. They let us know they’ve arrived with a high pitched song.
I used to think I should learn the names of everything around here, but I’ve long since given up.
Back to my walk…. On the way back home, as I walked on the other side of the road, the musty, bittersweet smell of a dead animal drifted up from a depression in the grassy earth off to the side.
I have taken on the task of trying to cope with, come to terms with, the suffering and death of creatures, human and animal, here in our midst, as if I could somehow generalize from the small scale here. One thing I have come to understand and accept is that feelings of overwhelming sadness are no help to me or anyone or anything else. I suspect these feelings are more me feeling sorry for myself in a useless way. But still, the more I see, the more I understand that there is no earthly triumph of good over bad, no triumph, in my mortal world, of peace, no ultimate triumph of health and well-being over pain and death. This for me is the meaning of the suffering Christ who brings comfort here to Catholics.
The animal lying in the grass was almost beyond recognition. It was large, a cow I suspect, its head and limbs buried under muscle and blood and entrails that various animals had buried their jaws in and dragged out. A large almost rectangular shape of black and white hide seemed deliberately draped over a corner of it. There was nothing left to feel sorry for. The next day, more of the animal had disappeared. A slimy piece of a dog’s jaw lay a little further down the road. Perhaps it had been killed in a struggle over the meat.
I walked on up the hill. The flowers opening now include vast sprays of small yellow daisy-like blooms and white ones, and the orange flowers that burst from stalks, explosions of tiny tubes. We had giant intense purple-blue morning glories last week. They’ve faded and now we have small lavender morning glories with deep purple centers. Floribundia, trumpet shaped flowers which hang upside crowd branches and the orange and yellow and strange heliconia reminiscent of parrots are once again dangling in abundance. Life goes on.