I won the lottery. After cashing the check and getting some things taken care of I schlepped off to find a new place. A place green, like the parrots that flew over our house in the late afternoon goldlight.

My brother used to catch them when they landed on the big Roble that we could see from our rooftop. He’d make a paste from some sort of tree sap. With a discarded tin can he’d collect the white milky substance from the mutilated tree. With bubblegum and I don’t know what else he’d boil the tacky mixture over a little wood fire right inside the tin. The stuff turned brown and sticky like the best taffy. After he’d cut a coffee limb from one of the old trees in the neighbours back yard. Coffee was perfect for the trap. It has one straight branch going up the middle and perfectly spaced branches going out on all sides. Just like the kind of tree branch you’d draw if you were in primary school. He’d take the taffy and skilfully wrap it around each branch until the whole thing was covered in the parrot catching goo.

Then I’d follow behind him and Oscar -always the smaller one, trailing and making too much noise. My hunting walk was terrible. I made more noise than anything my brother could think of. Still they’d let me tag along most times. Either my brother or Oscar would climb the tree with the trap. Careful not to fall and scrape the sticky stuff off, they’d get to the top and tie it with rope so that it protruded over the canopy. Then we’d go back to the roof and wait and watch.

Like clockwork they’d come squawking and flying erratically like so many Jonathan Livingston Seagulls. They’d swoop and twirl and screech until they reached their perch for the night. The big tree where they slept each night, majestic at the hillcrest where the road intersected -one going up to where the weird Germans had built their stone mansion set back in their property. The other road went down to the potrero and curved ‘till it reached the little farmhouse where the boys would hand milk the cows in the dawn light. Those multicoloured cows like mongrels –without breeding papers, mixed like the people that milked them. The parrots would land on the treetop and each time a dozen or two would land on the taffy covered coffee limb.

Like Olympians, Oscar and my brother would sprint up the dirt road towards the tree. You had to be fast because eventually the little green perikitos would work themselves out of the sticky mess and fly off to another branch. But usually there would be a few left, good and stuck, and they’d retrieve them with a tenderness unlike that with which they caught them. With cooking oil they’d de-tack the little birds and into the aviary they went. Saturday morning they’d be taken down to the town to sell to the pilgrims who came to see where Jose Gregorio performed his medical miracles.

So I’m off, I hope when I find that green place with my lottery winnings there are parrots that fly to their tree in the dusk and sleep. I hope the place has no patron saint, no pilgrims coming in buses and cars to see if they could get a glimpse, a golden light in the saintly place. I just want the twilight at sunrise and gold at sunset.


Malcolm Johnson said...


Daniel said...

Beautifully crafted. Thanks for sharing.

Patch said...

Buenisimo, hermano. Bravo!

Gazelle said...

very nice. i'm daydreaming of warm green places now...