Summer, and the day starts off steaming! The heat wakes me. As I lay in bed longer than I normally do and should. Under the tin roof of our house I listen to it creak and expand. I know by ten o clock, under the insane heat of this tropical sun you will be able to, no lie…fry an egg up there!. I feel sorry for the trees, and I look out through the open window, wondering at them . How could they not shrivel and die ? Instead they seem not to mind the torture of the sun..they thrive. They were made for this I remind myself.
Outside, I know the garden, is like a jungle. Fruit trees , vegetables and ornament intermingle and grow. In some parts, the wild side of the garden, the grass is almost six feet high! I am resigned to let it run it’s cycle. Go to seed then die.
The royal palm stands straight and elegant against the backdrop of our little jungle beyond. Down in its quebrada..the wet spot when it rains, I know it will be almost impossibly cool. Wet soil with shrubs and bamboo growing. Closer to home some garden beds are slowly being over run by a volunteer ground cover which I painstakingly pull every two weeks or so. There is no stopping it however….so I let it alone in places too hard to manage.
In front the house , at the foot of the driveway, like a protective fence, the hobos and mangoes trees are growing giant companions . They creates a cool canopy ,complete with long vines that reach downward intent on touching the ground and taking root. The fruit of the hobos litters the ground. The small round golden yellow and green mosaic they make on the pathway is an art work that I have studied many a early morning. If I walk bare feet I can squish their flesh between my toes. I know their scent. It reaches back into my child hood..and make my mouth water and put some joy in my heart.
On the horizon to the east, large fluffy clouds with silver in its composition holds the promise of an almost routine two o clock rain. And with the rain everything is lush and budding. Plants that once lay dormant are dressed in full verdant leaves and have managed to blossom bold elegant spikes of flowers. All fruit trees seem to be giving fruit at the same time. The garden in its summer cycle.
And what of the ocean in its summer cycle?
If I were to take a walk down to the ocean, at Tres Palmas my beach of choice, I would find that it is calm…glassy…perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Soft rippling pale yellow sand under water will go on for miles out..getting deeper and deeper..yet ,you will be able to see all the way to the bottom.
It is not yet hurricane season..where everything is churning and obscure..with impossible waves curling in the most threatening manner. No not yet..another month or so.
Mostly all tourist are gone…for now. in their place are locals..from the other side of the island with their families..come to vacation for the week end. Fast and furious fun. They will stay long after the sun has set…camping, playing music, laughing cooking, and bonfires.
If it does not rain, the day will end with an awaited sunset, intent on lighting the sky on fire. An unearthly calm will take hold…a stillness in the air…as the sun tries to and succeeds in exploding across the sky and ocean leaving a trail of liquid gold.
Then sets in the night. Loud with the sounds of what makes this place island. Fire flies, crickets, the local small frog that sounds like a night bird. All in a symphony together..loud…but the kind of loud you don’t mind. On the moonless nights, it will be stark all around, mysterious with a definite feeling that the supernatural is totally possible. On moon lit nights, silver blankets everything..the midnight sun, silver and glowing. A warm air caressing.
This is the island summer I have come to know and love.
Tres Palmas with it’s long stretch of lush tropical beach greets me in its early morning silence. It is 6.30 and the air is already warm, a kiss on my naked arm and bare legs. I check my sneakers under a nearby coconut tree and begin my ritual of the walk.
It is the lull in the day that prepares me for the non stop movement and demands and hustle and flow that will greet me when I return. Each time I walk I am reminded why it is I love this place and living here.
I take in the vibes. It is raw, polished, beautiful, dangerous, destructive, creative all at once. From the intricate patterns of broken sea fans washed up on the beach, to the clumsiness and silliness of the side walking hermit crab I find myself intrigued by and studying. For what feels like hours at a time, I have forgotten the outside world.
With the constant sound of wind in my ear and the crashing waves pushing bits of coral and shell at my bare feet I investigate what it means to be tumbled,sculpted, carved of the sea. From sand dunes to shells to rocks , to trees, even the very beach itself is sculpted. They are all an ever changing work of art. The wind and the wave are their master sculptors. I take in the lesson. I note the curves, the harshness, the gentleness, the lift and fall. I file them away for reference later.
The Pelican and Frigate birds are off in a distance. There is fish some where close by. Their calculated dives are a dance they have mastered. It is another art form. The art of gliding and fishing.
All along the shore I find pieces of sand blasted tumbled glass..sea glass, my next passion. They too have been sculpted by the power of nature. They glitter like jewels when wet and in the morning sun. My shadow stretches out behind me as I bend to pick them up..the sun now is almost at eight in the sky. I can feel a tug that I can not ignore pulling me away from the beach. The art lessons are over, for now.
After, I climb the hill, passed the Bamboo patch and find my way back into the valley. My daughter is running out to meet me, chattering away. Her beautiful face is alive and sleepy at the same time, my husband is rustling in the kitchen, breakfast is on. My senses are diverted now. The quiet is slipping away fast now and I let it. Later I will find it again, when I sit in the studio drawing, drafting, sculpting art pieces that have worked its way out of my subconsciousness onto raw clay.
You can use acrylic paints to prime the inside of the gourd, using even coats, about two would do it. Then you can go ahead and paint your design or picture. The surface of the inside is a little porous and holds paint well.
The outside skin of the Higuera is different in quality than the insides. While the inside is a little porous, the outside might resist paint a little more. If you are using it in its green skin state, it is better to wait until it is dried and has turned a little brown to apply paint to the outside. I use acrylic paint on the outside also. I typically leave a little of the natural wood to show with a coat of varnish to bring out the rich grandular grains of the Higuera.
The pulp of the Higuera is easy to take out if it is done when the gourd is still in its green color state. You can use a spoon and scoop it out. Seed are still unformed, and you are able to scrap all the soft fiber away from the wood like skin. If you got it all it will dry white. Put it in the sun for a while. Or you can start working on it right away. I have found that letting the water go out of the skin a little, stops it from warping later on when you carve into it.