A Figueroa Easter Sunday

91… Part Two: On Easter Sunday in the Country…

There are some days one never forgets. Easter Sunday 1995, on the Figueroa family ranch was one of those days for me. Unfortunately, my workbook’s location, for this period of time, is unknown, so the names of Antonio’s parents, wife, daughter, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews are not at hand. It is hard to tell a story about a large family without names but I will do the best I can. This story is told in two parts.

Figueroa family ranch east of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Step outside from under the supported roof and one is in thick outback

The morning began with a tour of the brothers’ bedroom. While going to school the brothers had lived on the ranch and the sisters lived in town. It was a long country walk to and from town for the boys. There had been seventeen sisters and brothers. Now it was the father, mother and Moro. Over the years, mother, who could not read, had acquired a large library of books and drafting tables for the boys. As I walked into their room, isolated from Álamos by distance and geography, the world was in their hands by picking a volume off the book shelfs. Antonio and his brothers were proud of their childhood bedroom. They knew this was a special place. I remember the moment as a hopeful dream with knowledge being the coin of the realm and all that is good in command.

Two Figueroa children at their grand parent's ranch.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Two girls and their uncle, in the back rest reading, after breakfast.

We all went into the kitchen to join mother cooking breakfast. There was no TV, radio or computers but there was paper and pen. And so the Figueroas entertained themselves by drawing caricatures of each other. There was an innocence in the room as they showed their cartoons and the others laughed. Joyous home entertainment without electricity.

Outside, the only sounds were time passing by as these humans reenacted a common thread throughout all of mankind from the creation of paper to the power grid. So much had changed so quickly. The world Antonio knew is not the world his father knew. Many call this progress. Few ask of unintended consequences. I felt at home in a world I understood.
You can see Anders art at artfeats.com.

Grandfather on his daily walk to town from his ranch.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Every day he walks the long walk from the family ranch and returns.

Antonio’s father, as a young man, held a infant girl in his arms. This baby grew up into a young woman and the now aging man married her. Together, they would have seventeen children. Antonio was the last born born to an elderly man who now hardly, if at all, recognized his youngest child.

I had seen the father in the late afternoon walking into town. I asked Antonio where he was going and he answered ” to church and then he turns around and walks back to the ranch.” Walking is the form of transportation that most people use in Álamos. Elderly people on their daily walks are a common site. In many cases one could tell time by their passing by. The father’s walk from the ranch is another leap, as far as walking goes, in magnitude order. I am sure there are well-worn foot paths through arroyos and over hills, as old as man, that cut the actual distance compared to the many miles our taxi negotiated in reaching the ranch from town.

Spring time, looking west from a dry distant hill at Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

It is late Spring looking west at Alamos from the ranch's high ground.

Antonio and I hiked after breakfast to the top of the hill the ranch sat on. The hills and valley were dry. The sky was dirty with dust and smoke from burning farm fields surrounding Navajoa to the west. This is the way it is in late spring. Álamos, Sonora, Mexico is two hills to the west and Cacharamba crowns the western horizon. Beyond that the Sierra Madre foothills descend to the great agricultural flood plains and the Sea of Cortez. In the distance a young boy was playing stick with his dog. It could have been Antonio’s ghost from 15 years past. From here, a place to take in what living really means, the struggles and rewards travel on the wind. We, as one, are the past, present and future.

Two Figeroa Brothers, one a photographer the other an architect-artist.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Two brothers raised on the ranch, a photographer and an architect-artist.

The seventeen Figueroa children went their own ways. A brother became a priest, a sister worked in the Vatican. Some became teachers. Some did not marry and those that did planned to have two children, no more. It is an amazing step forward in one generation, 17 children to two. Much of this deals with economies. Modern children are an expensive investment and for some marriage is an economic challenge. Above, Antonio poses as a drunk outside an Álamos bar and his brother, an artist-architect working in Guadalajara, stands next to one of his murals he painted while in Alamos. Both of these brothers are skilled and accomplished. I think back to their bedroom on the ranch. This is where they came from, a room of books and drafting tables.

Antonio Figueroa taking late afternoon pictures of Alamos, Sonora, Mexcio.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Antonio Figueroa doing what he loves, taking pictures with nature's warm light.

A photographer and his town. A man in the moment. A father seeing the future. A husband embracing the present. A son understanding the past. This photo of Antonio, at work, is a portrait of all these moments and much more. Summer comes once a year, ten times a decade and a hundred times in a century. Each summer washes away the previous seasons and starts many growing cycles anew. Nature’s cycles are meaningful, as is Antonio taking sunset pictures of summer Álamos, Sonora, Mexico from high ground.

Springtime 1984 in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico
It is the spring of 1984. Anders Tomlinson and Kit Nuzum arrive in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico to begin shooting super-eight film footage with single-frame and additional short bursts and several time-lapse sequences. They used Kodachrome asa 40 film stock with a Minolta news camera.

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