Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Potato Plant and Ms. Potato Head

The Potato Plant and Ms. Potato Head
            A potato plant, healthy, hearty and hale, about sixteen inches high, has shot up through a break in the sidewalk on the inland side of Avenue Cameron Sabalo. I spotted it when I walked to the lavanderia to pick up my laundry. Actually, I stopped and ogled this surprise of greenery. Who would expect a potato plant in the sidewalk!

            Potatoes are one of your basic volunteers: “Choose me, choose me, I’ll grow anywhere.” I’ve seen potatoes pop up in the compost pile, in the alley after a neighbor’s dog had knocked over the can and scattered peels hither and yon, in the current year’s squash which I had planted in the plot where last year’s Yukon Gold had been buried.

All one requires to grow a spud is a scrap of peel with an eye. This particular potato is situated off the left corner of Nancha’s Rincon, an eatery which also happens to be home to a voluble parrot who perches and squawks among the exotic flowers. On pick-up days, trash cans are wheeled out and plastic bags of food debris are plunked down, just to the right of the unlikely potato. I’d like to think Jose Q, the parrot, saw an opportunity and planted a spud.

            But a city sidewalk? Cameron Sabalo, one of the busiest streets in Mazatlan, juggles tourists, surfers, beach vendors and a host of local workers. When it rains, this street floods. Buses spew diesel exhaust with constant regularity. Yet, it grows, one potato plant. Bullies pick wings off flies, torment cats, torture their little sisters, but nobody has stomped on this lowly, lonely potato plant.

            Okay, the next strange thing, not a bit related to the potato plant in the sidewalk, is every bit as weird. It’s my head. Not inside my head but the outside of my head. It is a two-part problem, actually.

October in Montana means autumn, cool, refreshing. In Mazatlan the summer heat and humidity begin to abate. Actually, it is more a promise of abatement. It’s still summer and that means I sweat a lot. With no activity on my part, my upper lip is sweetly dewy. When I go for a walk, mop the floor, or cook a meal, I am drenched, soaked in un-lady-like sweat. Some days my hair never dries.
Two of my babies were tiny during the hot months. That meant their little heads were always damp. That meant each of my girls had a covering of cradle cap beneath their hair. Guess what—adults get cradle cap too.   

            I could deal with cradle cap if my hair was not falling out by the handful. Seriously. I pay attention to my hair. Mostly with a scowl. I always wanted pretty, curly, thick coarsely-stranded, easily managed hair. Want doesn’t mean get. My hair is baby fine, straight as a stick. It does what it wants—lies against my head as if it were painted there. The bane of my existence.

            When I was seven, my classmate Joann had a full lush head of strawberry blond waves that flipped at her shoulders. Cousin Sharon had dark Shirley Temple ringlets to her waist.  I had a Dutch Girl cap; a bowl-cut of fine hair that clung to my scalp. I hated them, my two best friends.

After a month in dry-as-dust Montana plus three weeks in unusually drought-stricken Washington, I noticed the usual predictable effects. My nails turned brittle. My skin flaked off in sheets. And my hair began falling out, more than usual. If you want to locate me, follow the trail of hair.

            Losing gobs of hair worries me. I don’t want to be bald. I consulted that oracle, he who knows all, the internet. I learned that sometimes, as much as six months after a trauma such as surgery, a person might suffer hair loss. Right on time, I am. Oh, joy. Now I’ll be a bald old woman with cradle cap.

Surely, if a potato can grow in the middle of a busy sidewalk, surely, bear with me, please, I should be able to grow hair on my busy head. Meanwhile, call me Ms. Potato Head, scaly peels and all.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

October 1, 2015

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