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Looking Out my Backdoor - All in life is not sweet

 

April 20, 2017



John and Carol walked over for Qi Gong on my patio. It’s how we start our day. “How are you this morning?” “Fine, all things considered.” My stock answer when I’m not feeling all that well.

“We came to tell you the workmen have started bathroom tile. We need to be at the house this morning. No Qi Gong for us today.”

“Actually, that’s fine with me. I had a miserable night with the smoke.” I wiped my cheeks. Tears have continually washed my eyeballs for the last three weeks that our valley has been hazy with smoke from forest and grass fires; wild fires which surround us.

There is a tree at the corner of my patio. I wish I knew the name of it, some kind of palm. At the ends of the reaching branches, it shoots out balls of fronds, like many-fingered hands, puffs of palm. We in Montana have it as a houseplant in a pot, usually about two feet tall. At the base of the tree I have a beautiful bed of canna lilies, yellow with orange splattered centers. Instead of my Chinese drill, I watched those dratted iguanas slither down the trunk of the tree and mow the blossoms in gulps. I like watching iguanas. I love my flowers. I try to tolerate, to share, through gritted teeth.

Mid-morning, Lani and I went to town, lists in fists. There is no one-stop-shopping in Etzatlan. No big-box stores. Finding what we want often requires several stops. Stores are small, shelves packed to the ceiling. The up-side of scattered shopping is that it is a lot more fun and one never knows what one might discover.

Fabric to make a curtain for my bathroom doorway headed my list. On our way to somewhere else, we passed a doorway through which I saw curtain panels hanging along the wall.

Lani and Ariel are the only residents on the Rancho who have been here long term. The rest of us are diligently working through various stages of construction or remodeling. My larger jobs are finished but there are a few small tasks I’m now ready to tackle. My casita is tiny. Opening inside doors requires room I don’t have. When I moved in, I removed the bathroom door and rigged a temporary curtain looping a rope on ends of a tablecloth and hanging the loops on nails. A year later, I’m ready for a real curtain.

I’m a home-made sort of gal, used to making what I need. I was raised that way. Everything in my home has my fingerprints. I intended making my curtain. I also have a basket of quilt pieces ready to stitch together for a bedspread — another good intention, paving stones. I simply haven’t gotten a “round tuit.”

Uncharacteristically, I say, “Lani, let’s go in and look.” Around the block we go so we can park near the store. “I want color.” I finger a panel the same color as my canna lilies. “I can live with this. I don’t need to make my curtain-door.”

Bedspreads are stacked next to curtains. “Is this cotton? I like it. Realistically, I may not get back to my sewing until winter. I’m in Mexico. I’m the new me. I’ll buy this too.”

Leo, my yard worker, odd jobs helper and resident philosopher, brought proper hardware and hung my curtain. I covered my bed with my new pink-girly-flowery spread. Pink? I never buy pink. I didn’t even like pink when I was eight. I like it today — it freshens the room.

Later, while I gathered laundry from the clothesline, Leo was across the yard raking a bushel of flower petals from beneath the jacaranda. The tree is in full spread, a purple umbrella. Every day for weeks, the tree rains purple petals onto my lawn.

“It’s a strange tree, isn’t it, Leo? It seems like you are always raking tree debris. A few weeks ago it was the dry leaves. Now the flowers. Next it will drop seed pods big as castanets.”

“She beautiful tree,” his reply. “She gives you months of green shade. Seeds fall. All in life is not sweet.”

I wiped my smoke-weepy eyes on the clean sheets and took my laundry in the house.

——

Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com. Email sondrajean.ashton@yahoo.com.

 

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