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Looking out my Backdoor: Down-in-the-dump-slump-lite!


Last updated 4/15/2021 at 8:44am

Some days I can’t lose for winning.

Sunrise, up earlier than I wanted. I moped around, felt mildly depressed. Not real depression. Real depression is serious stuff. Me, I’m in sort of a down-in-the-dumps lite.

Ice-cream for breakfast sounds good. Will ice-cream help? But my freezer is empty. I haven’t had ice-cream for weeks. Back in the easy-peasy days before COVID, I bought hand-packed ice-cream from a woman in town. But knowing precautions were loosely held in that tienda, I quit buying it.

Then a couple months ago, Ana and Michelle, on one of their shopping expeditions, brought me even better ice-cream from the Big City. Last week they asked for my shopping list, not knowing when they were going, but soon. Or maybe soon.

While eating breakfast with a real book propped in front of my plate, the phone rang. I didn’t have a book mark handy so I slid a playing card from the deck to hold my place.

Perhaps an hour later, the morning still young, I grabbed my deck of cards to play a couple hands of solitaire, to keep my fingers nimble and to let my mind float. If I give my hand and eyes a mindless task, my mind will, all on its own, solve all manner of problems. Sometimes.

“Playing solitaire till dawn, with a deck of fifty-one.” Remember that one? The nine of hearts still marked my place in a book by Coetze. Do you think I might be low down?

But, I dragged myself out for my morning walk, resumed after a week plus of wildfire smoke. When I stepped out the door, a road runner skittered across my patio. The critter, indigenous to the area, is seldom seen. It made me laugh.

My problem is, I’m incapable of maintaining a good slump. Thankfully. I know that tomorrow will be different. No matter what, Tomorrow will be different. (Notice I didn’t say “better,” just “different.”)

I know how to feed and nurture my personal low-pressure system. If I wanted, I would not get dressed or make the bed. Close the curtains. Unplug the phone. Eat junk food and leave dirty dishes. Go through old photos, listen to sad music from the past. I highly recommend my method because it becomes tiresome, even boring, very quickly.

Lows and highs pass. I give them a nod of acknowledgement and carry on.

Bird-watching, enjoying their antics, helps to shore up my spirits. But I’m not St. Francis. Birds don’t land on my shoulder and nuzzle my cheek. Oh, what I would give for a cheek nuzzle. Color that one happy/sad.

My walk-about included my back yard garden/orchard. I noticed the bucketful of peas was ready for picking, enough for a good meal. I snagged a ripe tomato from the manic-magical tomato vine, holdover from last year.

As long as I was outside, I grabbed a book and walked over to see John and Carol. There aren’t many people here with whom I can share poetry. I read them a couple favorite poems by Cavafy. Good moments.

Evidently I wasn’t ready to give up on glum and gloom. We talked about their plans to return north in a month. Lani is going north about the same time. Summer means empty houses on the rancho. Usually I mourn after my neighbors have gone, not a month before they pack their bags. See what I mean? Every up has a down?

In the afternoon, I learned that second vaccinations are underway in all the towns around us. I could well slide down that slippery slope to slump at the bottom. But, I’m in the middle of cutting back my lavender. I’ve only energy for one thing at a time. Maybe our turn will roll around next week. The woman at the hospital said, “Soon.” Soon, but not with a date.

Hot diggity. Michelle and Ana just drove in from shopping in Guadalajara. Hooray for me. They brought me French roast coffee beans and vanilla ice-cream. I’d like to say the two most important things from the list I gave them last week, but it happens they were the only items available, which vastly increased their importance.

If I hadn’t already eaten, I’d be tempted to sit down with the carton of ice-cream and a spoon and eat the whole thing. Not today.

But I give myself permission to gorge on ice cream tomorrow. Do you think it will help?


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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