Monday, June 16, 2014

Life is A Bowl of Mangoes, Ripe From My Tree

 Life is A Bowl of Mangoes, Ripe From My Tree    
Did you know that three weeks housebound makes this woman restless and a bit dingy? While I revel in the opportunity for extended days of retreat and reflection, be careful if you knock on my door. I am liable to drag you inside and hold you hostage for hours of tea and one-sided conversation. 

When I was young I believed I was “inscrutable”, the perfect poker face. This despite an unfortunate experience that still makes me cringe—ah—but that is a different story. Truly, for better or worse, every thought that runs through my head, conscious or unconscious, writes itself clearly across my face. The only way I could get away with anything would be to wear a paper bag over my head. This morning, while I stood apprehensively silent, Carlos, my faithful pulmania driver and Nana, my Medicine Woman, had a five minute conversation in Spanish, at my expense, complete with laughter and vivid hand talk, discussing my progress from my first massage until now. “Look at her face.” I understood every gesture. My face does not lie. 

The other day Mazatlan and Havre shared nearly the same weather forecast. With the slight difference of thirty-two degrees. And one word. The Montana forecast was for “possible” thunderstorms. We know that means “probably no rain”. Mazatlan’s forecast was for “stray” thunderstorms. What a delicious phrase. So rich with possibility. One might round up a thunderstorm, like a stray calf. Or kick it out of the way, like a stray dog. 

The better my Spanish, the worse my English, especially spelling. Spanish is wonderfully sensible: “a” is always pronounced “ah” and so on. Lately when I write an English word, I want to make the “e” sound spell like a “long a”, the “i” a “long e” and I end up muddle-fuddled and searching the dictionary to spell words I know perfectly well. 

The papaya tree in my back courtyard is not a papaya. Ted, my snowbird neighbor from Edmonton, who putters in the courtyard every day during the winter, told me those tiny green buds, in March the size of peach pits, held the promise of papaya fruit. They are now the size of my hand and turning color.

Yesterday Rudy stopped by to see if I needed fruit or vegetables since he was going to the big market downtown. I put in my request for whatever looked freshest. Before Rudy left I asked if he would remove the hideous vertical blinds (which wouldn’t open) from my front window. He dragged them to a corner in the courtyard to be disposed of later. I asked when my papaya would be ripe. “What papaya? That’s a mango.” Woo-hoo! I tolerate papaya. I feast on mango. 

I’ve come to realize that every creative act is a self portrait. (The gospel, according to me.) Last winter when I had put the finishing touches on a painting, I stood back and looked at it lined up my other winter oils. None of my paintings were of myself but they all were a reflection of me. Immediately I understood that whether our creative act is building a straight fence line, restoring a ’46 Pontiac, lining rows of jeweled jars of garden produce on the pantry shelves, soothing a child, making music or painting a picture, all creation is a self portrait. I’m painting another picture of myself that looks somewhat like an old grain elevator at Turner.

My friend Kathy thinks I’m becoming Buddhist. It is true that I escort spiders out the door with good wishes and cringe with apologies (This hurts me more than it does you.) before I prune a plant. There’s more to spirituality than spiders and flies. Kathy did not see my Zen fly out the window when Monday I gleefully butchered a scorpion in my living room with the meat cleaver. 

This morning I woke grumpy, restless, irritable and discontented, feeling too alone. I need a companion. I travel too much to want a cat or dog. I was sitting at my dining table dutifully eating my broccoli like a good girl, when a pale gecko skittered up the wall beside me. “Ah, Samantha.” My new friend. I suspect she is not alone. I seldom see a fly or mosquito. 

Did you know that if one has two appliances side-by-side on the counter, that if the food processor won’t work, that no matter how many times one disassembles it and pushes the “reset” button, that the processor still will not work if the coffee grinder happens to be the appliance plugged in? Silly woman!

But, of course, you already know that.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door
May 22, 2014 

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