Snapshot of a Character

Every Tuesday a landscaper cuts the grass out on the fairway off our patio. The man is an artist. He lays out a circular pattern as he drives the mower, first cutting the grass on the diagonal, then curved, following the lines around the sand trap, wider and wider as he moves out around the perimeter of the pit. Newly mowed, it makes a lovely pattern. Nice, eh?

But that’s not the full artistic depth of this man. He sings while he works. The mower is pretty loud, but I can still hear his voice–baritone, I would say–over the rumble of the machine. He usually wears a wide sunhat and long-sleeved shirt for sun protection. But when he sings, he tips his head up and sends the words up to our brilliant blue Tucson sky. I can’t tell what the words are and I suspect they are Spanish which I have just a rudimentary understanding of. The words are less important than the tone and tempo of his singing. His voice is lilting and makes words like “vibrant health” and “strength” and “happiness” filter through my head.

I’ve never seen him up close, so I have no idea of his age. I’ve never spoken to him. But he is my visual writing prompt. I have created a whole character portrait of Alejandro. For Alejandro is what I have christened him. He is married, and he and his wife just had their first child, a little baby girl. This baby completes the triangle of this family. Alejandro and his wife, who is as yet unnamed, are bonded by love for each other, but the child is the glue that makes the family. The songs on the fairway are of joy.

So when this man whom I don’t know, but feel as if I do know, is out there on the  golf course singing, I know he’s soon to be a character in a story.

Who’s your snapshot character? Where did you first meet?

Sabino Springs



  1. Barbara Chapman

    I know this man. At dawn we run our terrier on the 18th fairway and he serenades us in Spanish. He smiles and waves. One day I flipped through my parent’s LPs and found their favorite Prez Prado. When I play it, I sway to the beat and remember late night dance parties.

    • I just got chills. I love the serendipity of life. I recently met you. I’ve been listening to “Alejandro” for maybe two years now, and you know him too. Cool!

  2. That’s great. Twenty-five years ago, I worked a summer job with an “Alejandro” for the local parks department here in MA. Always smiling, singing, cracking jokes. Found out recently that he’s still alive and going strong in his late 80’s. And he still looks the same! Must have been all that fresh air from working outside.

    • I think people like the “Alejandros” in our lives are sent to us for a reason. They certainly connect us. Sing out!!

  3. joanne sabates

    You don’t sing, Ethel, but I see a snapshot of you as an artist each year that you worked at Washington School, when you returned, each September, with a new hair style and color—–short, long, curly, straight, blonde, brunette, redhead—-you tried them all. This boldness to experiment and begin anew left such an impression on me, that you were in my dreams last night, visiting as the new school year approaches. Your hair was straight, chin length, with bangs and a sheen upon your dark chestnut color. New year, new beginnings…….you were an inspiration to us all! Thanks for the visit; I’m ready!

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