Saturday, July 18, 2015

spiffing up the premises

Every house has its routine.  My people call them "chores."

I am fortunate enough to have two incredibly efficient people who make my housework a bit lighter.  Dora, the woman who helps keep my house clean -- "helps," as in "does most everything."  And Lupe, who keeps my well-designed swimming pool humming.  Without them, this house would be a bit too much for me to handle.

But there are things that fall exclusively on the Steve to-do list.  Taking out the garbage.  Doing the dishes.  Cooking.  Tidying up major messes.

My major daily chore, however, is picking up the leaves and flowers from the landscaping, that provides a privacy screen in front of each of the four bedrooms.  The architect, who designed the place as her dream house, wisely chose vegetation that would provide both shade and a sense of isolation for each bedroom.  Cup of gold vines.  Small palms.  Heliconia.

The screens work perfectly.  But, because they are living plants, they do as all plants do -- they shed worse than my golden retriever.  Both leaves and flowers.  And, now that we are entering the rainy season, the sluffing has increased.

Even though I pick up leaves and flowers all through the day, this is what I see each morning.  And, if there has been a wind during the night (which is unfortunately rare: our nights are far too humid and still), the fallen fruit is heavier.

And why do I do this little chore several times each day?  I have learned to my cost that the flowers and leaves, when mixed with water, form an almost impermeable bond with the concrete -- especially, the flowers. 

Before I bought the house, the former housekeeper was not very conscientious about cleaning up the plants.  As a result, there are still the remnants of some flowers plastered to the concrete.

So, mine is not the behavior of some obsessive compulsive personality.  Well, not entirely.  It is simply tidiness.

The nice thing about cleanup chores is I get to learn the cycle of the seasons.  When I moved in last October, it took about  five minutes to clear the detritus.  It now takes just over a half hour.

And I get to find little surprises amongst the plants.  Two weeks ago, I managed to disturb the nest of stinging ants under a pile of dead leaves.  The fact I know they were stinging ants tells the rest of the story.

But yesterday morning, I ran across a far more pleasant discovery.  I was wondering where one of my regular visitors had gone.  A little frog.

He first came to my attention when I opened the concrete lid to the swimming pool recycling tank.  He was sitting there, and jumped out -- happy to be free of the dank hole.  At least, he seemed happy.  For all I know, he preferred the hole.

I see him now and then at night when I use the swimming pool.  Once sitting on the legs of the patio grill.  Several times resting on the pool ledge.  And twice in the pool itself.  I guess he likes short dips before retiring as well as I do.

On Friday morning, though, I learned where he hangs out during the day.  I was picking leaves and flowers out of the vine when I saw what looked like a thick leaf.

It was my frog pal.  Perfectly camouflaged.  Napping as if he did not have a care in the world.

I do not know if he goes courting under the gate at night.  There are plenty of frog voices calling out for mates.  Or maybe he has adopted a celibate life amongst the vines.  A monkish amphibian.

At least, he did not end up as dinner for the cane toad who cruised through here the other evening.  I would have missed finding the little frog in new hiding places.

After all, it is a frog-eat-frog world.

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