Monday, July 25, 2016

Hard-Headed Woman Finds Treasure In Back Yard

Hard-Headed Woman Finds Treasure In Back Yard
            Eureka! I’ve just discovered my back yard. That’s not to say I never knew I had a back yard. But I dismissed it. “Dismiss.” Hang onto that word.

My first focus, of necessity, centered on my humble casita, on making it fit for human habitation.

 Next I devoted my time and attention to the front portion of the property, cleaned out the storage bodega, fancied up my patio, built brick bases for potted flowers and herbs. Each evening I surveyed my “kingdom” from one of my rocking chairs, smug about its beauty.

Now and then I stood at my windows, overlooking my back yard, watched Leo mowing the grass or chopping back the overgrowth. Now and then I ventured out to ask, “What is this flower, what is this tree, is this a plant or a weed?” Now and then I frowned at an interloper and voiced the royal decree, “Off with its head.” 

Thus having dismissed the existence of half my property except to grace it with the occasional glance, I told friends, “I’ll never use it. There’s no place to sit. The front patio is so wonderful that I cannot imagine using the back.”

Thus I snared the notion in my self-limiting mindset, wadded it into a crumpled ball and cast it in concrete. Dismissed.

Fully half of every day I sat on my front patio. For a few minutes I surveyed the back from the windows inside my casita. The way it was, the way it is, the way it will be forevermore, amen.

I hate myself when I trap myself into one of those immovable mindsets. Actually, I never know I’m stuck until something occurs to jerk or jiggle me up and out.

Meanwhile work moved forward. The concrete man came and made a sidewalk along the length of the back of my house, a practical necessity to keep the water from puddling on the brick during the up-coming monsoon season.

Leo hauled away loads of immature but invasive amapa trees and upstart jasmine, akin to an (imaginary) mutant towering Russian thistle in our Montana wheat fields.

I discovered a guava tree along with a beautiful fan palm and other plants I cannot name, all hidden in the underbrush. I planted a golden chain tree, as well as mango, orange and key lime trees.

I began to see vistas, possibilities, arrangements. I bought two oleanders and two more hibiscus. What can I say, the iguanas love the blossoms.

One morning I was in the yard chatting up my key lime, admiring its tender baby fruits, when my new concrete slab caught my eye. It’s not very wide. But just maybe . . .

I tromped around front, grabbed one of my rocking chairs, dragged it to the back, set it on the concrete, a close but comfortable fit, and sat down. I stayed an hour, in the shade, on the concrete, while my erstwhile concrete mind-set crumbled around my shoulders.

Birds flitted and flirted through the trees, played in the sprinkler, preened yellow, orange, turquoise and green feathers. Butterflies, the size of plates, mined and milked bougainvillea. Hummingbirds zoomed in to steal honey from every blossom a little here, a little there.

Two rockers and a table have found a new home on my “sidewalk patio”. Please join me in my new favorite place. We’ll sit in the shade on the west side in the morning, sip coffee and enjoy the entertainment as the little critters put on an improv show.

With my hard-headed dismissive attitude, I nearly missed finding the gold at my feet, the “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, and I didn’t even have to dig. Eat your heart out, Humphrey.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

June 2, 2016

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