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Looking out my Backdoor: Spring blooms, breathes and blows recklessly


March 22, 2018

Two weeks ago the neighboring trees out my east window were naked sticks. Today the same sticks are tricked out in every shade of leaf, heavy with green.

Most trees here shed their leaves in spring; the old brittle leaves pushed off the branch willy-nilly by the new sprouts. The Jacarandas are still naked, just budding into flower. By next week a giant purple umbrella will fully cover the northwest corner of my yard. The Prima Vera wear great daubs of primary yellow. And over to the west I see sky-reaching stalks holding hunter-orange bouquets.

Around the perimeter of my yard, bushes, blue, purple, pink, yellow, orange, red, white. Flowers in hues un-named, combinations which shout, “Look at me.”

Perfume: jasmine at my door, roses in back, a cinnamon-vanilla scent from a purple flower, name unknown. The air is heavy with scents, ever changing with the heat of the day.

Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? Don’t you believe it! There is a snake in every garden.

I’m not prone to allergies. I’m not. A couple morning sneezes clear the passages and I’m good to go. But every few years … .

Maybe it started at the Monday night weenie roast around the open fire-pit. Fire equals smoke equals dry membranes. Wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Good food and good neighbors.

Tuesday morning Jim and I loaded rocking chairs, water and snacks and drove to a clearing on the way to Piedras Las Bolas, up the mountain.

We took my metal rocking chairs because there is something about a rocker. Once you sit down and lean back, the cares of life simply fall away. The chairs were his idea.

Poetry was my idea. Jim had said he’d like to hear some of my poems in my voice. He’d read a few but hadn’t heard me read my own work. The mountain seemed the perfect setting.

We unloaded the rockers, moved through our morning Qi Gong, then sat and alternated a poem or two by me with stories by Jim, punctuated with stretches of silence, rocking, listening to the rustle of the dry oak leaves.

I read a couple poems. Jim, who is smitten to insensibility by a mutual friend, told me his latest story in his saga of lovelorn romance. We ate an apple. I read a couple more poems. Jim told me the story of when he was kidnapped. His life is much more exciting than mine. And so the day went, alternating confidences.

When the breeze came up, the oaks rained leaves. These particular oaks grow only at this higher elevation. The air was golden with sunlight reflecting through the pollen. Yes, pollen. Exactly.

Back down the mountain, cane fields were burning prior to the following day’s harvest. Dust clouds rolled across newly plowed fields.

We are surrounded. Our air is filled with particulates from farming, cane burning, construction dust, pollens high and low.

Whatever the cause, this morning I woke sneezing, coughing, dripping, swollen-eyed, raspy-throated, and thoroughly miserable.

You may wax rhapsodic about spring if you wish. I don’t have the energy. I’m going back to bed.


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 [email protected]


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