A Patio Reverie

by cheri sabraw


The quail pair doesn’t see me sitting so still on the patio, sipping my iced vanilla coffee, undetected. She, under an overgrown Bottlebrush shrub, pecking away for plant bits and seeds and he, parading across my line of sight like a shooting gallery target at the Midway of my youth.

Back and forth he bobs, his six-feathered black plume rising and falling like a Drinking Bird. He calls to his female admirers down by the Spanish Oak, “Chi-ca-go, Chi-ca-go.”  She scolds him for showing off. He puts out a pip and another harsh one: she responds dutifully, following behind him, like an East Indian old woman, draped in a sari, trailing behind her husband on their daily walk to the market.


The blood-orange bougainvillea blossoms, now faded to a dull pink rose color, having fallen only yesterday in a hot wind, swirl around at the mercy of the dry breeze. They scrape along the concrete, like potato-chip butterflies, listing on their sides. At the far side of the patio they come to rest for now, in a festive gathering, unaware that by tomorrow, they will be dead and part of the rock garden.


The bunnies rest in the  shade of a non-descript bush, hopping nervously out onto the hot rocks, nibbling the sparse vegetation in mini-bites, and returning to the safety of the canopy. I am tempted to put out a piece of celery.


Was that a Greater Roadrunner that just ran by?

I must be more observant.







About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
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13 Responses to A Patio Reverie

  1. What a charming reverie. I love the metaphor “potato chip butterflies”! A lovely way to spend an afternoon.

    • Ladybugg says:

      Thanks AK. Sounds are difficult to describe. The dried bougainvillea flowers seem to harden when they leave the plant. In mass, while swirling around the patio, they sound as if they are solid pieces of plastic instead of the paper-thin wafers they are.

  2. Man of Roma says:

    Impeccable, flawless piece of writing, Chaerie (as usual.)

    I’ve been very busy because of my now passed away master’s one-post-a-day type of discipline that does good to my faltering mind.

    I only notice that your pictures are impeccable as well, that quails are quite different from here in Italy, and that …. roadrunners remind this old man of wonderful days spent at the local Church theater.

    Let us be happy
    Chaerie dear
    You being mummy
    and I pappy (give me ear)

    No need at all you give me ear since, well, you know already – and I too but as a darn man blah blah.

    Ok. Meh.

    • Ladybugg says:

      Hello Giovanni!
      Those pictures are not mine. I wish the one of the quail were. It almost has an Audubon quality to it. Thank you for your kind words. Writing every day, while good for the mind, is difficult for a blogger, don’t you think? Being “happy” is a decision, maybe?
      Always good to read your comments because they usually make me smile. And that’s happiness, right?

  3. Richard says:

    Elysium. A place of eternal joy and the reward for a good and honourable life.

    An inspiration in observation, words and pictures.

    In groves we live, and lie on mossy beds, By crystal streams, that murmur thro’ the meads: But pass yon easy hill, and thence descend; The path conducts you to your journey’s end.” This said, he led them up the mountain’s brow, And shews them all the shining fields below. They wind the hill, and thro’ the blissful meadows go. – Aeneid

    It is no trial to watch this particular roadrunner.

  4. Ladybugg says:

    The Aeneid! I so enjoyed reading it several years ago in Dr. Steidle’s class. Thank you, Richard, for including this lovely piece of prose in your kind comment. I wonder how long it took Virgil to compose only 50 words or so.

    I love quail–their little voices and their plumes, their monogamy. Their personalities, their energies, their love.

  5. Brighid says:

    Quail are such a treat to watch, sadly there are none here, too many cats I think.
    There were many on the home ranch, and one could watch them go about their busy lives for hours. The male keeping watch from the highest rock while the Mrs. took her dust bath, and the kids ran hither and yon in search of the tastiest seeds.

    • Ladybugg says:

      Quail and ranch are synonyms, right?
      I love your image of the dust bath while the little ones scatter.

      Those old cats. Our rancho cat, Bobb, has killed three birds this spring. But then again, he has also dragged several rats and mice to the doorstep.

  6. shoreacres says:

    So much of my Texas life is here in your post. You have the bougainvillea exactly right, for one thing. The amount of racket they can make, you’d think impossible for a flower.

    The roadrunners always are a delightful sight when I go up to the hill country, and as for the quail — I had a friend who used to hunt them with his father in fields which now are home to Houston’s glitziest shopping area. It’s called The Galleria, and it’s a magnet for fashionistas from around the world. That was then, this is now. I’m glad you still have the quail.

    • Ladybugg says:

      Well Shoreacres, thank you for your comment. My momma is a Texan. My youngin’ went to a Texas university. We have kin in the hill country. I’ve photographed Ladybird Johnson’s bluebonnets from Dallas to San Antonio.

      I haven’t been to the Galleria, though, and would prefer it were still quail country. Boo hop!

      We have quail on the rancho and on the patio in the desert southwest from which I penned that description in the past.

      On another tangential note, my Army-dentist father was given a certificate at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico in 1952 for shooting a road-runner while he (the bird) was running. Pretty good shot!

  7. wkkortas says:

    Be more observant? Well, I don’t know–I always thought a nice patio was a good place to get away from having to be observant.

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