Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Turning of the Seasons

            The Turning of the Seasons
            Nancie sent me photos of the vibrant leaves along the highway and streets of Leavenworth, yellow and orange and red against the green backdrop of Douglas fir and cedar.

            Immediately I could imagine the golden snake of cottonwoods slithering across the Plains, hugging the banks of the Milk River. I love this season with a tinge of sadness, knowing it is short-lived, knowing winter could arrive before the next calendar page is turned.

Those years when early frost, heavy with cruelty turns the leaves green to brown without the golden interval, make me feel personally slighted, as if I woke to Christmas with no gifts beneath the tree.

            Certainly north-central Montana is not to be compared to New England but is it any less beautiful just because the gold is sparsely scattered on the landscape?

            Here in my little corner of Mexico I am learning to see the turning seasons, seemingly limited to two, winter and summer. After the rains of August and September the green is greener. Even vacant lots shoot up with lush jungle growth, bushing twenty feet high and more where in April the ground had been scraped clean. The three islands across from the coast look like a bit of Ireland.

            Flowers bloom in profusion. But I don’t know many of their names or habits. Some bloom year round, some in their own time. It’s not like Montana where lilacs and daffodils in yards, crocus and rooster-heads on the prairie, announce spring has truly arrived. Fall is easily recognized by the deeper colors, whether weed, wild flower or cottonwood.

            Two weeks ago hummingbirds buzzed in to taste blossoms on the back patio. Today a butterfly big as a saucer fluttered next to me to see if I was a new species of flower. Disappointed, no doubt, it flew away.  

            In this tourist town, the migration of the snow-birds, those Canadians and Americans who live here from October or November through April, is a sure sign we move from summer to winter.

            This apartment complex I live in is small. The entire upper story is occupied by a family who own several blood-testing clinics. They leave at six in the morning and are home around eight. I seldom see them. Around the corner on Avenida Tiberon two young women live in two of the apartments.  One teaches school; the other works for an automobile sales company.  Of the three apartments along Calle del Pulpo, I have the one in the middle.

            Thursday night Ted from Edmonton arrived. He lives in the unit on my left. He was excited to be here, so while he was waiting for his girlfriend Theresa to come by cab, he woke me up and we had a sidewalk reunion.

            Saturday Gary and Heidi flew in from Ontario. They have the back corner unit on Tiberon. An hour after they arrived, with barely time to open their suitcases and change clothes, they were on their way to Casa de Cameron to hook up with their buddies. But they took time to poke their heads in my door for greetings and hugs.

            Now we are waiting for Frank from Spokane, who lives behind the door on my right. None of us have heard from Frank. We look out every time a cab stops near-by. When Frank arrives, any day now, we will feel complete. 

            Over the past two years these snow-birds have become important to me. I’ve gotten to know them, have heard their stories.

Mutilated Spanish is my summer language. With the snow-birds I can speak English without wondering which parts are understood, which parts incomprehensible, which parts mangled beyond meaning. Winter is English.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

October 15, 2015

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