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Archive for the ‘Flora’ Category

The weather was picture perfect for the last Sunday of summer morning walk.

Looking across Jardín Conzatti.

Corner of Reforma and Jacobo Dalevuelta.

Mexican flag still flying above Teatro Macedonio Alcalá in honor of el mes de la patria.

And now, we welcome autumn.

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Entering La Cosecha Oaxaca farmer’s market, look to the left and you will see…

… murals by Ulises Martinez celebrating the gift of maíz.

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The flowers within and mountains beyond.

“I am large; I contain multitudes.” — Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

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Conventional wisdom in Oaxaca: “For everything bad, drink mezcal; for everything good, you also should.”

Lest we forget, the walls of Oaxaca are always there to remind us.

My copitas (little cups) by maestro Vicente Hernandez are always ready for a gotita (a little drop) or two on good days, bad days, and especially days when friends stop by.

Day trips to my favorite mezcal making villages and their mezcaleros, like Berta Vásquez (above) in San Baltazar Chichicapam, were frequent enough to keep the liquor cabinet stocked with a variety of artisanal mezcal made from one or more kinds of maguey (AKA, agave) — arroqueño, barril, cuixe, espadín, jabalí, tepeztate, tobalá, and tobasiche, to name a few!

Alas, since Covid-19 hit the scene, many of the villages are closed to outsiders and, even if they were open, I wouldn’t go — for their health and safety and mine.

However, mezcal aficionado and tour guide Alvin Starkman came to the rescue. Through him, I was able to buy five bottles of mezcal from several different villages and he delivered!

In the event you are trying to read the labels, left to right: Tobalá, Manuel Méndez, San Dionisio Ocotopec; Mezcal destilado con mota (yes, it’s a thing), Rodolfo López Sosa, San Juan del Río; Arroqueño, Fortunato Hernandez, San Baltazar, Chichicapam; Tepeztate, Manuel Méndez, San Dionisio Ocotepec; Espadín, Celso Martinez, Santiago Matatlán.

¡Para todo mal, mezcal; y para todo bien, tambíen!

(ps) This just in! Mezcal Tour Supports Advancement of Indigenous Women — an article about the wonderful ongoing work the above mentioned Alvin Starkman, his wife Arlene, and Mezcal Educational Excursions of Oaxaca are doing.

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This morning as dawn broke, a pitahaya bloomed in Oaxaca. Tipped off by my neighbor, I ran upstairs with my camera — before coffee, no less!

The eight inches across flower was definitely worth it because, alas, by late morning this beauty will have wilted. It will dry, eventually drop off, and fruit will begin to form on the section hiding behind the flower and from which it emerged.

In a few months, there will be a red luscious dragon fruit, like this one on a neighboring stalk. I miss the pitahayas that used to climb the chain link fence surrounding my terrace.

By the way, if you are confused about the difference between pitahaya and pitaya (as I used to be), this page from the Mexican government gives the most complete explanation I’ve seen. It’s worth running through a translator if you don’t read Spanish.

My entry in Cee’s Flower of the Day photo challenge.

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When the rains come and the three African Tulip trees (Spathodea campanulata, Tulipán africano, Flame trees, Flame of the Forest) in my apartment complex begin blooming, even grey days are brightened.

As the name suggests, Tulipán africano are native to Africa and I was first captivated by them in the early 1980s when I watched the PBS series, The Flame Trees of Thika, based on the Elspeth Huxley memoir about her early years in Kenya.

Beginning the late 1800s, these ornamental beauties were introduced to other parts of the world — thriving and even becoming invasive in many areas of the tropics.

Bursting with brilliance and providing food and shelter to a multitude of hummingbirds battling for territory and mates, these creations of Mother Nature always beckon me to stop, gaze, and marvel.

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When the outings are few and far between and limited to walking distance, I’m appreciating the views from and around Casita Colibrí even more.

June 3, 2020 – Templo de San Felipe Neri in early morning

June 3, 2020 – Jasmine in the afternoon

June 4, 2020 –  Wind chimes in the late afternoon

June 5, 2020 – Crocosmia around noon

June 5, 2020 – Looking southeast over the city in early evening

Be safe and well and look for the beauty.

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It was early morning in the garden and the clock was ticking. She isn’t called a Night Blooming Cereus for nothing.

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First one approached.

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It was followed by others. However, these weren’t friends and this wasn’t a party, it was seriously cereus work.

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That is about as exciting as it gets at Casita Colibrí during these days of Covid-19 under the “semáforo rojo” — the red stoplight — as contrasted with orange, yellow, and the much longed for green. Stay safe!

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Given the barrage of bad, sad, depressing, and infuriating news these days, I’m finding it difficult to string together more than a few words. However, who needs words when Mother Nature is speaking from my terrace — succulents and cactus to the rescue.

Quaqua

 

Monadenium

 

Cleistocactus

 

Gymnocalycium

 

Jatropha podagrica

Wishing all health, safety, and a bounty of beauty!

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Remember my Pitahaya (Dragon fruit)? In just a few years, five stalks, picked up from the field of a friend in San Martín Tilcajete in 2012 and planted in my garden, became a year-round green wall along the chain link fence that separates the terrace of Casita Colibrí from the neighboring property. Its perfumed massive white glow-in-the-dark flowers beckoned bats and bees and the resulting luscious red fruit were garden highlights.

Do you also remember that a taproot grew into the wall and down into the apartment below? Alas, the result, in the fall of 2016, was having to cut down the entire wall of Pitahaya. However, some the stalks were saved and planted along the wall adjacent to the apartment’s garbage can/recycling collection area. Lucky us, last night into early morning, the Pitahaya put on quite a show and put the bees to work!

A win win for all concerned!

 

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Sunday morning’s walk found empty streets…

Looking south on Calle Macedonio Alcalá.

Looking north on Calle Macedonio Alcalá.

Closed parks…

Jardín Conzatti.

“Parque Cerrado” – Parque Juarez El Llano.

And, beauty.

Templo de la Preciosa Sangre de Cristo seen from the atrium of Templo Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

Flamboyant trees from the atrium of Templo Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

Yesterday, there were 25 new Covid-19 cases in the state of Oaxaca, including the first two in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

 

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Spring morning marvel
lovely nameless little hill
on a sea of mist

–Basho

night blooming cereus

Spring in Oaxaca brings high temperatures, dry hazy skies, the shrill sound of cicadas, and ethereal beauty of these flowers. Whether you call them by their common name, Night Blooming Cereus, or call them by their scientific name, Epiphyllum hookeri, upon waking, their twelve hours of temporal exquisiteness is a spring morning marvel.

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More from Sunday morning social distance strolling in this time of Covid-19…

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Calle Manuel Garcia Vigil, Oaxaca de Juárez

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Barrio de Jalatlaco, Oaxaca de Juárez

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Barrio de Jalatlaco, Oaxaca de Juárez

There is life and there is beauty.

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We couldn’t put it off any longer, non-perishables were needed! Thus, instead of another long leisurely Sunday stroll like last week, my neighbor and I walked (keeping two meters apart) down to Soriana, our local supermarket. We went early in the morning and the streets were mostly empty — making it a piece of cake crossing a particularly dicey intersection. Ready to do battle with the virus, we came armed with alcohol wipes and shopping, paying, and bagging strategies. However, Soriana also was on emergency preparedness alert. Once inside the door, hand-sanitizer was pumped into our hands and the handles of our carts were wiped down with disinfectant.

As we had hoped, there were very few other customers and most seemed very conscious of maintaining social distancing protocol, — the workers stocking the shelves, not so much. There were signs posted limiting the quantities one could purchase of certain items and there were taped lines on the floor in front of the check stands indicating how far apart to stand. Though, one guy didn’t get the message and cut in front of me. I snapped, “sana distancia” at him, he glanced back at the crazy gringa and went to a different line.

My route to Soriana, usually consists of cutting a diagonal across the Plaza de la Danza, walking down the ramp to Jardín Sócrates, and crossing the atrium of the Basilica de la Soledad before tackling the steep stairs down to Av. de la Independencia. Alas, this trip, it wasn’t to be — the atrium doors facing the Jardín were locked up tight, as were the ones at the top of the stairs on Independencia.

Signs were tacked to the massive doors indicating all masses had been suspended until further notice. It was all quiet on the church front and the realization hit me that I hadn’t heard a single church bell in days, if not a week — which sounds about right because, on March 21, the Archdiocese of Oaxaca announced the suspension of all Eucharistic celebrations, including Easter. In addition, the Archbishop has called on Catholics to stay home during Holy Week, in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 between people and communities.

Health officials have been running public service announcements on the TV telling people to stay home and advising them, if they must go out, on methods to avoiding catching and spreading the virus. And, yesterday the Mexican government declared a state of health emergency and ordered a suspension of all non-essential businesses and activities until April 30th. For businesses, the restrictions are mandatory, however for people it is an “emphatic invitation.” President Andrés Manuel López Orbrador’s gradual approach to the pandemic has been highly criticized in some quarters, though the strategy has been praised by representatives of the World Health Organization. However, most agree that stricter measures will have to be implemented once the pandemic really hits.

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Sunday mornings have always been my favorite time to wander through the neighborhoods of Oaxaca. Traffic is light, sidewalks are mostly empty, and the city seems nestled under a blanket of tranquility. Thus, in these days of an abundance of alone-at-home time, a long peaceful walk with my neighbor (maintaining sana distancia/social distancing, of course) was just what the doctor ordered.

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Out the door and up the hill, we went.

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“Hola, buenos días” greetings were exchanged with the few people we encountered — many walking their dogs.

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Though we weren’t planning to eat, we stumbled on a lovely garden restaurant – Ancestral Cocina Tradicional — and couldn’t resist sitting down in their sun-dappled courtyard for a quesillo and huitlacoche quesadilla, washed down with a healthy jugo verde. Everything about the restaurant was done with care and attention — including being mindful of COVID-19 concerns.

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Emerging from the restaurant, we continued our ramble, admiring architecture, street art, and the beauty of dry season flowers.

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This Dama de Noche (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) stopped us in our tracks!

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After three hours, we returned to our homes feeling refreshed, appreciative of Oaxaca’s many gifts, and feeling like we can get through this — despite the puppet masters.

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