Last week when I arrived at Rancho San Benito after a five-day absence, I was presented with bouquets of flowers.
This is the ceiba, sacred tree of the Maya people, also known as the kapok tree. This example grows smack dab in the middle of the stone-walled corral.
I'd expected to see ceiba flowers this week because on my last visit, the buds on its branches were obvious. Not having lived near one of these trees, I hadn't quite expected this sort of show.
After admiring the glowing pink of the blossoms in the warm morning sunshine, I noticed the number of birds. Among others, I counted three hummingbirds in the tree at once and a pair of Altamira Orioles. A squirrel cuckoo, with its earthy-red body, flashy fan-tail and characteristic squirrel-like hopping behavior, was lurking nearby. The usual crowd, mainly jays, big-beaked Groove-billed Anis, blackbirds, grackles and a variety of other birds I still cannot identify, foraged among the blossoms as well.
But the most impressive visitors to the ceiba were the bees. Thousands of bees. They were busy going about their business, and the loudness of the hum was startling. As I stood beneath the tree, what was even more fascinating was the quality of the sound, which seemed to be everywhere. It was directionless and enveloping, as if the atmosphere itself was humming and vibrating.
I went about my work, carrying buckets of water for thirsty coconuts and lemon trees and packing compost and leaf mulch around their trunks to help the roots stay moist in this rainless season. I checked the plum trees, which budded last week and also are in flower now, and they're doing fine. I cleaned out the one-room house near the corral, which needs a new roof, door and some structural repairs before I can move in. The cleanup is in preparation for measuring and a full inspection prior to starting that project some time this spring.
Then, after the twenty-minute walk back into the village, the afternoon's agenda consisted of lunch with neighbors and a siesta.
That's pretty much how the days go around here right now.
Text and images copyright 2016 by Marc Olson