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Looking out my Backdoor: The color of laughter


August 1, 2019

Yesterday my computer went strange on me, would not let me make any of my usual connections. So after trying everything I knew (not much) I phoned my son for help. Ben was at work, so he said he’d call me to fix it when he got home. A few hours later, I thought to give it one more futile try.

Obviously, the dang bugger heard me make the call to Ben, quaked in its reboots and fixed itself.

My errant computer was a small glitch in my day. Even with the importance my computer has assumed in my foreign life, my world does not turn on whether it works or doesn’t work. That is what I try to tell myself.

But once my service was restored, I giggled and privately celebrated and shared my good news with friends — via internet.

It’s been a rugged week for me. I had one day I called in sick, so to speak. The rest of the time I felt mildly depressed beneath gray and weepy skies.

I suppose life experiences form my philosophy or belief system. I like stories of those who have clear moments of epiphany. For me, I think eye openers have been longer, drawn out processes, many of them.

One certainly occurred when, during prolonged hospitalization from a car wreck, my doctor told me I might not live. He wasn’t one to mince words.

He also said I’d never walk. At any rate, since I was heavily drugged when he declared those ominous words, I didn’t believe him on either count and went on to have 50 years of walking without aids. So these past five years walking with a cane are no great burden.

Through all this, and more, I have come to know that I am insignificant. And that makes me smile. It is a great freedom, I think, to be of little account.

Because of this, and who is to argue, I find moments of pure joy in other small and insignificant things, such as finding computer service restored without great effort.

Or sitting on my patio watching lizards perform rites of fertility.

Or harvesting mangoes from my own backyard tree and making marmelada to share with my neighbors.

Or breathing deeply of the aroma of flowering ginger which I planted in the back southwest corner of my garden, this year mature enough to overwhelm all other scents. The white flowers are more beautiful than orchids. And hardier.

Or when I found a real paper letter in my mailbox in the post office above the Mercado.

Or when Lani and Ariel took me along to El Parrel in San Marcos for lunch, good friends, excellent food, lovely music and an introduction to natilla, beside which traditional flan pales in comparison.

And I know how to make natilla. So do you. Easy, courtesy of Mama Google. Use the recipe with vanilla bean and stick cinnamon.

Or when Leo brought me a stalk of fingerling bananas when he noticed my empty fruit bowl.

Or when Josue unloaded his shirt lumpy with Granada fruit for me to make aqua de Granada. Pomegranate by its Mexican name.

Or when the vibrant yellow bird, four times the size of a parakeet, landed for a moment on the edge of my patio roof, posed, poised and took off again. It’s a new bird to me, in this land of many yellow birds, the gorgeous vivid yellow of laughter.

Or when English tea with sugar and milk cured my depression.

Or when I awoke this morning to a bright blue sky with not a cloud in sight.

But if I were rich and famous, if I were a real somebody, then I’d be telling you how important it is to have a good investment team, a McMansion on the Pacific, a plastic surgeon on retainer and a private jet in my backyard.

If I were rich and famous, I’d tell you to buy one hundred rare yellow birds.

I’m satisfied with being a dust mote in the grand scheme. But then, what do I know?


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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