Cuernavaca, la eterna primavera

25 March, 2018            Cuernavaca, la eterna primavera

The deer are getting busy at Pony Pasture. I’ve photographed them two days in a row.

Cuernavaca is a place my Mom visited every year in Mexico. “La eterna primavera” means “the eternal Spring” in Spanish; it’s early Spring in Richmond and I saw three deer yesterday at Pony Pasture and another today. When I see a deer I tie up the dogs’ leashes and begin taking pictures. In case I lose sight of the deer, I just have to look where the dogs are looking:

rapt attention / raptors / enraptured

As I mentioned last week, ospreys reappearing in Richmond is a sure sign of early Spring. My friend Sam and I were hiking at Brandermill earlier this week and we caught one of a pair of ospreys perched on the edge of the lake:

1/2 of an osprey pair on the edge of Brandermill Lake

Sam and I saw squirrels near the same spot; I saw more at Pony Pasture this week. Here’s one from Pony Pasture:

Sunlit squirrel at Pony Pasture

I took a fifteen second video of the squirrel at Brandermill. Squirrels probably do this all the time, but in all these years I never knew. At around seven seconds into the video, the squirrel bends down and grasps the branch with its front paws and begins scraping its chin back and forth on the branch. I don’t know if it has an itch or crumbs on its jaw or why it does this. It is (in my opinion) an endearing gesture:

That osprey up there, by the way, is the only raptor I got this week – unless you count this indistinct female Red-tail preening herself near my house early Thursday afternoon. A male that I assume was her mate flew by about five minutes later but I didn’t have my camera:

Female Red-tail preening in a tree near my house Thursday afternoon

There hasn’t been a great deal of raptor activity this week. Except for that picture, I’ve mostly seen male Red-tails this week, and only glimpses. The snow and messy weather made them harder to see this week, but my intuition says the females are primarily on the nests right now and the males are bringing food. I’m not sure if the eggs have hatched yet  or what the precise timetable is in this area. But the action is slowly building.

It’s getting a bit warmer – but we’ll continue to have fires for a while. Mackey had taken up the coveted spot in front of the woodstove and Dash wanted it. The three of them quibble about who gets to lie there. But generally the first one on it gets to stay. Dash is testing hat theory:

Dash and Mackey negotiating about who gets to lie in front of the fire

Robins here in the mid-Atlantic region are always associated with Spring, but you could take a picture of a robin in Richmond 365 days a year and probably not even leave your yard. But it seems like this time of year, for every robin you would normally see, you see ten. They are everywhere. It’s Sunday evening (March 25, 2018) as I type this sentence, it’s 7:30 PM, and I can hear robins twittering outside my window as I type. I’m told it’s mostly males at the moment. It’s difficult to distinguish gender in robins. Unless you see one lay an egg. This one was from Deep Run on Friday. This non-typical posture I’m sure is significant but I don’t know what it signifies:  

Oddly postured robin

I was driving Friday afternoon beside a swampy little spot near Cheswick Park known as Shaaf Pond (there is no pond in evidence); one vulture was picking apart the remains of an animal beside the road – possibly a young deer. This vulture was waiting its turn or keeping a lookout – it wasn’t eating while the other one was, at any rate. This is high mating season though, so this may have had courtship implications:

Turkey vulture in Henrico County

This first part of the blog came to a sudden halt; my thinking wasn’t as linear as it needs to be. So to end this first part I’m including a daffodil Ev cut from our yard. Dad’s favorite color in the center, surrounded by Mom’s favorite color: 

Evelyn’s flowers from the yard:

And since I’m on the subject of closing a not-very-colorful blog post with a bit more color, here is a pair of bluebirds from yesterday: 

Bluebirds on the feeder

And have a great week! And come back next week! The first Sunday in April! Easter! All best, 



T-shirts are like memories, because they fade, but unlike memories because memories last forever

My old Cuernavaca shirts are wearing out. “La eterna primavera” is Spanish for “Eternal Spring.” Mom used to bring them home from Cuernavaca every year. It’s likely I would have never heard of Cuernavaca if I hadn’t been raised by Mom and Dad. We’re wrapping up Mom’s estate now, thanks to both the hard work and easygoing natures of my two brothers and two sisters. It was a shock when Dad died in late 2012, but after a year or so of grieving, Mom remained very much herself. As we all did. It’s been about fifteen months since Mom died – as suddenly and with as little fanfare as Dad did four years earlier. Grief ebbs and flows (in my experience) and at this point I go for long periods without thinking about what life was like when they were around. But I took those shirts out of the wash not long ago and watched the way they disintegrate a bit each year. They remind me of the experience of loss I feel about Mom and Dad. Those shirts have a finite life though – they’ll be 100% out of my life in another year or two. Fortunately the experience of being Mom and Dad’s son is my very literal DNA and it’ll outlast all of my clothing. 

I was checking through emails and found this one from Mom in July of 2012. She was in Cuernavaca when she sent it: [[Hi, Jay, Yesterday Shane found Claudia’s email address […]  Evelyn would be interested, I think. This is the first time I’ve googled. Love, Mom]] “This is the first time I’ve googled.” I’m smiling when I read that. She gloated regularly about her computer illiteracy – she took more than a little bit of pride in it – but after Dad died, she thought e-mail was the greatest thing since sliced bread. She never met a stranger. 

A high school friend of my Mom’s wrote in the guest book from Mom’s memorial service “Rarely have I known anyone as energetic or enthusiastic as she was!” “Energetic and enthusiastic” – I’m grateful that’s in my DNA. “La eterna primavera” – I can see why Mom was drawn to Cuernavaca.

I looked back through old blog posts before writing this; I’ve already used this story three times, all in relation to Dad. But I’m relating it for a fourth time here, in relation to Mom. Her father James or “Jimmy” died in 1979 or 1980, early in my ill-fated first career at VCU. I was talking to one of his old-guy buddies at the funeral and the guy said – I can still hear this – “We’ll miss old Jimmy, darn his hide.” It was such a warm, sweet, honest, little-old-guy thing to say. It was so sincere. I still miss old Jude, darn her hide.   


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, daffodils, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, hyacinths, international travel, James River, koans, ospreys, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, robin, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), squirrels, whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Cuernavaca, la eterna primavera

  1. Seva Sergio Flores says:

    Hello Jay,
    This is Sergio, from Cuernavaca, Judy’s family in the city of Eternal Spring.
    This time I can not read your blog without leaving a comment. You have jus brought to my head and heart all the wonderful moments we lived with her.
    Every time your mom came to Cuernavaca, we learnt not only from her beloved family but she taught us so much of our own lands. With that great energy, curiosity and joy she had, she would climb in every Ruta (Micro Bus) and then, move around as far as it would get, and then come back home, carrying all this amazing stories of her “walkabouts”.
    You are right when you say that “she never met a stranger” everyone was her friend, specially coming back from those great rides, she had known the drivers stories, and so much about the places she had passed by, and then, she would share with us! Just as you do with everyone in this wonderful Blog, you have, thank you.
    God bless you and your family, and remember that in Cuernavaca, “nuestra casa es su casa” (our house is your house) so you have a home in the Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera.
    Greetings to you, all!

    • Sheila Wiese says:

      Jay, I was thinking how much Mom would have loved hearing every detail from this past weekend in Aiken — especially since it involved spendng time with family and dressing up in fancy clothes! I missed being able to share it with her.

      And Sergio, thanks for your wonderful note. It is so nice to hear from you. My mom loved your family very much. Her trips to visit you were some of the happiest times in her life.

      • Hi Sheila! After just returning from our Easter meal at Katie’s yesterday, I thought a lot about how much Mom loved any family celebration – Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, she was overjoyed with all of them for the simple reason that it gave her more time with her family. There was no such thing as “too much” for her when it came to spending time with her family. We’re very fortunate!

        Happy Spring,



    • Sergio,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! My mother glowed (even more than usual) whenever she talked about her trips to Cuernavaca and her “familia” in Mexico. My brothers and sisters and I were so happy whenever she traveled there – because SHE was so happy! I enjoyed when you wrote about her sharing the stories of her “great rides” and the people and places she met along the way. When she returned to Virginia she told us similar stories – every single time. Reading words like the ones you wrote remind me yet again how fortunate I was to be raised by her and Dad.

      Thank you for the offer of visiting your home in the Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera. I may start thinking about a visit. It looks and sounds lovely.

      Greetings to you too, and please say hello to the rest of Jude’s “southern family.” Have a great day, and greetings to you al too!



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