Thursday, January 03, 2019

waking up is hard to do

Even though Mexico is filled with noise, I usually wake up in the morning without any external stimulus.

Roosters. Dogs. Sound trucks. None of them will disturb my sleep.

This morning was different. A more insistent noise yanked me from sleep. The idling and revving of a large diesel engine. And it sounded as if it was in front of my house.

At first, I thought it was the garbage truck. During the Christmas and New Year seasons they often drive by slowly in search of seasonal tips. But this was different. Whatever it was had found business to do at my house.

And then I heard it. The distinctive sound of sliding rock. It was a dump truck delivering a load of gravel.

My good neighbor Mary had recently had a load of gravel spread in front of her house. It looked nice. Seeing hers reminded me the street in front of my house had once looked like that. She said she could arrange a load for me.

I did not think anything of it until yesterday when she introduced me to Daniel, the man who helps maintain her home when she is here and when she returns to Michigan for the summer. We struck a deal. He would buy gravel, have it delivered, and then spread it for an agreed-upon price.

The arrival of the gravel was my reveille this morning. By the time I went outside, the dump truck had left. But Daniel and his nephew Luis were hard at work performing what looked like one of those tasks for which the Army is famous -- moving a large pile from one place to put it in smaller piles in another.

You may wonder why Mary and I bother with the expense of gravel. The answer is rather simple.

The street in front of our houses turns into a good-sized stream when it rains. The builders of our houses were smart enough to build on a small elevation. Our houses are noticeably higher than the house across the street. When it rains, the waters flow away from our side of the street.

The gravel is an additional prophylactic. Because the street itself is compacted sand, it erodes easily when the runoff rushes our way. The gravel helps to stabilize our side of the street.

That is the practical answer. There is an aesthetic one. Having gravel in front of the house makes the street visually far more presentable.

The arrival of cars and guests is always announced by the comforting crunch of gravel. The same sound that speaks the contentment of television country costume dramas with the arrival of weekend guests or the milling of participants preparing to ride to hounds.

Like all things in life, this load of gravel will cycle into death. Its predecessor did -- with the help of a teenage son and his motorcycle. But, even without him, the earth has its way of reclaiming its own. Dust to dust is not only highly accurate, but poignant, in this case. One day, we will all go the way of the gravel.

Daniel and Luis are still spreading. Today I had planned on starting my list of payments that need to be made in January in person (postal box rental; property tax; water, sewer, and garbage; car registration). But they will wait until I can get the SUV out of the garage.

Instead, Daniel and Luis have given me the gift of sitting here patiently and sharing my morning tale with you.

May your day prove as restful as mine.

I just realized I have not wished any of you a happy new year. And so I do now.

May this year hold the blessing of contentment for all of you.

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