Hot yellow rudbeckia.

Zinnia, one of Mexico's gifts to the Americas.

A few months ago a local couple invited many of the folks in my village and me to a mariachi party. I did not go, which is a pity from the historic point of view. Had I been there, I would have witnessed the unprecedented arrival of the police at a gathering that included the mayor. Reportedly, the mariachi band had been so overcome with enthusiasm it and the mayor forgot that the village has a noise ordinance. A disgruntled neighbor called the boys in blue and while no one ended up in the hoosegow, there was probably a certain amount of ayayaying during the explanatory period.
Local fiestas tend to be subdued in summer when the university students are making noise elsewhere. Fauna and flora benefit from the quiet. I know I do. I almost forget that I live two hours away from the nation's capital. If it were not for the fact that e-mail allows me to reach people in remote corners of the world, I might feel totally cut off from the hurly burly of our civilisation. To keep from turning into complete hermits, the Infanta and I make occasional forays into the real exurbia. There is, somewhat near us a town that looks like the setting for a Victoria movie. There, superbly kept Victorian houses set in manicured lawns give the impression that lives untouched by adverse circumstances. Truth is, that tragedy has no respect for quaint architecture. In that very town, earlier this year, a man who seemed to be perfectly normal took a pair of garden shears and decapitated his wife and young children, then shot himself. The town is beautifully still and to those who have not heard of the crime, it is a little slice of sweet Americana.
How tragedy and beauty coexist is a mystery to most of us. In the Victoria town, one can still hear the musical accents of the South before local speech became a homogenized thing pattern on HBO speak. You can see two men sitting in front of a gas station talking about World War II and the bombing of Hiroshima. One of them might be tall and lean and he will wear blue clothes similar to those of Van Gogh's olive gatherers. A few miles away, two egrets will stand stock still near a stream. There will be those horrible shopping mall roses French botanists have committed and every median will be radiant with lemon lilies, rudbeckia and Fairy roses.
We come to home to a floral fiesta of zinnias and black eyed susans. The world is too much with us out there. We have novels to write and books to review--Margot Berman's Hothouse Flower: Nine Plants of Desire, for example. We intend to cocoon with a vengeance.


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