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Looking out my Backdoor: Sitting in my corn field


September 5, 2019

Used to be, if I had a serious deadline, I would work all day, work all night, work until the project was finished, ready to deliver.

Ah, well, that was then. “Used to be” is like paint, it covers a multitude of sins.

Nowadays, in what the “boys” here call “my wonderful retired life,” and it is, mostly, I parse out my day in bits and pieces. Perhaps like today, hang laundry, rest, generally with a book in hand, make the bed, rest, sweep floor, rest, work on project, rest. You get the idea.

Presently, my favorite mid-morning rest stop is my corn field. Lest you get the wrong idea, I don’t have a “real” corn field. When Jim from Missouri was here in the spring, he gave me a packet of seed. Not a serious packet such as a serious gardener would buy, but a small budget packet with a few seeds. “Take a chance,” he said.

Since corn is a major crop in Jalisco, I said, “Not so much to chance.” Where field corn grows year round, sweet corn ought to flourish. I planted it just before the rainy season began. Which season seems to be over and gone a month and more too early. Grumble.

My field is a converted patch of flower bed, about 2-feet by 10-feet. I have a stand of 12, each stand with two or three stalks, each stalk with burgeoning ears. I go out every morning to see if there are the dread corn worms. So far, so good.

Actually, I don’t sit in the corn field. Mid-morning the west side of my casita is shaded. I have two rocking chairs, one for company, sitting on the back patio, surrounded by plants in pots. The corn is in the sun. Sun drenched corn on the stalk is a thing of beauty.

Since this time of year I have no company, my mid-morn break is a perfect time for reflection, meditation if you will, contemplation or just plain day-dreaming.

Meditation, or what I call meditation, doesn’t look like much. Just me, rocking or sitting, looking like normal. No candles or bells or incense. No cushions. I can no longer sit cross-legged, Buddha-style. When I get down on the ground, I’m a sight to behold getting myself upright.

I do not enter a state of bliss, though at one time in my life, I thought that the goal — that if I were really good, I would be able to live in a state of bliss. Life didn’t work that way for me. When moments, hints, of bliss come, I treasure them, knowing they help balance the moments of anguish.

No, bliss is never my aim. I give attention to the things around me, flowers, weeds, partridge doves, which really know how to play, the hummingbirds harvesting sweet from my patch of geraniums. From there, it is fairly easy to empty my mind of worry, stress or fears for the future.

So I sit. Sometimes for just a few moments, sometimes a half hour or longer. This brief respite from daily cares is important to me. When I don’t give time to myself, I suffer, perhaps in little unnoticeable ways. But those little ways chip away at my well-being.

So I sit. I gift myself with doing nothing. My favorite spot shifts with weather, time of day, placement of sun in the sky, mood or inclination. Some days you will find me, generally in a rocking chair, on my front patio. Or at the far corner of my backyard under the jacaranda tree.

So I sit. Today I sit beside my corn field. Temperature is mid-70s. Air, softly moving, brushes tree leaves to a flutter. A black swallowtail moves from hibiscus to geranium to that long-stalked purple flower. I smell beans simmering in the kitchen. Some days beans and homemade tortillas make the perfect meal.

My hip hurts. The lime tree has curly leaf. A young iguana (youngsters are green, adults are gray) traverses the top of the far brick wall, on the way to an appealing yellow hibiscus flower. My class reunion met without me. Life is far from perfect.

But maybe this is bliss.


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 http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


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