Love in the Time of Caliente

He dropped into my life about 6 months ago, suspended from a breeze-swept bough of bougainvillea. Suddenly, there he was, looking into my eyes with his amazing peripheral vision, his mouth offering me the small yellow flowers of the peanut grass – that is – before he gulped them down. I had seen his father before, sneaking into the upper back sanctuary of the hotel, and I wondered if his father cared at all about the dalliance of his son with the old gringa.

No matter that over these past months with the intense heat and lack of rain I had used my best remembrance of the pitcher’s art to hoist upon the tiles bits of mango and banana. Once he even accepted shredded bits of pineapple. But, alas, he had moved on. Moved on from the tiny yellow flowers to suspending himself from the stalks of the Mexican petunias and grabbing at the larger purple flowers. Many times he fell. But always he recovered and began to discover other delights in my garden. I have been trying to grow a “shrimp” plant for years now, and usually they would succumb to the heat or the ants. But this year, it succumbed to the gnawing jaws of my ever-hungry companion.

I have named him “Pokey” because he appears suddenly on the rooftop, his dinosaur-like neck poking out from amongst the tiles. Although Pokey has decimated much of my flowering and leafy plants, he has more than entertained me with his clumsy antics. At one time he would perch in the crown points of my foxtail palm, thrusting his head at the buzzy bees trying to suck the sap from the opening pods. He would either give up, get stung, or simply fall from his perch as he is apt to do.

He does not come to visit me much anymore, and I have been told that he is most likely down in the arroyo for the season. I miss my scaly love. My only hope is that he does return one of these days, having survived the temptation of neighbors who would fancy my Pokey in their bowls of sopa…

Linda Ferguson