Tamara Jorell

Writing life and the neighborhood

Writing life and the neighborhood

 

More windows

Last week, I asked you what you saw through your windows. Here are some of my readers’ views:

*****

There is a funeral home outside my office window. Most of the time the parking lot is empty, but occasionally it will fill with cars. Sometimes it’s only a few and other times the lot will be full. Invariably, people step out, women typically in dresses and men in suits or sport coats. You can easily tell which of the men aren’t used to wearing such attire by the fuss they make with their ties and their stiff gait walking in. The younger and middle-aged adults try to stall the inevitable: they check to make sure every door is locked, examine their reflection in the car window, look around (maybe for the nearest Menard’s?) and mourn the remainder of the cigarette they have to stamp out. Most of the seniors park in the front spaces as if they were reserved for them ahead of time. They walk in with a sense of duty. Children never seem to know the difference; they race up to the doors of the funeral home as if they were going to Target. I wonder if they know their chances of getting an Icee or a soft pretzel is pretty low...

One of the coolest things I’ve seen is a group of 20 or more Harley Davidson motorcycles pull in and form a ‘color guard’ of sorts around the parking lot. Without a word each of the leather-vested riders left their bikes and holding various flags, stood sentry along the sidewalks leading up to the doors. The flow of how this unfolded made me pretty sure they’ve done this before. Interestingly, a few of the riders did not go in for the service but remained standing, holding their flags. I wonder if that day, they were one biker short.

Jason, Plymouth, Minnesota

*****

My office is in the finished attic of our garage. Windows look out in three directions. From my desk I can look to the south to the road the ambulance came down the morning my forty-eight-year-old neighbor, an enthusiastic weekend visitor to our lake, dropped dead with a heart attack. Two windows look toward the lake—one to the left of my desk, the other over the little table where I refill my tea mug while I ponder the next scene of my work-in-progress. Today there are no leaves, and the water is steel-gray through the bare tree trunks. Soon it will be warm enough to open all four windows and catch the breeze along with the scents and sounds of the Northwoods, but by then my view of the lake will be obscured with leaves. One autumn evening a few years ago, I came out of my office and glimpsed the glow of sunset on the houses across the lake. I shot this with my phone. 

LeAnne, northwestern Wisconsin

*****

I’ll miss my bedroom window view from the homestead of my folks. It is beautiful with rolling hills, perfect for sledding, apple trees where the cows and we kids liked to munch, and the ever mysterious and beckoning woods. The next several weeks will be bittersweet as we clear everything out after the sale. The view in the near future will be a natural gas plant.

Today’s view, from my kitchen sink, is the trees (including a transplanted spruce from the homestead), the trampoline, now set up for summer, and the fort with the door and windows wide open.

Linda, Eben Junction, Michigan

*****

I notice as I look out of my dining room window this March morning that the dust and dirt from 5 long months of winter needs to be cleaned off.  The sun is coming up and promises a beautiful spring day. Because I am concentrating on the beautiful sunrise, I don’t immediately notice all the branches the winter wind has blown all over my yard. The snow is almost all melted except for a few small patches along the north side of the barn.  There was a time as a young wife and mother that I looked forward to the warm spring weather that is promised to me today. The children loved to be outside with me and “clean” the yard.  We would have such fun while we worked and the fresh air promised they would take a long nap that afternoon.  The farm fields I see from my window are now black with ribbons of water in the ditches waiting for the huge road ditches to thaw so all the water can drain to the river two miles away. My husband has lined his tractors, cultivators, and seeder in a row in the yard by the shop.  Each one is ready to be used as the sun and wind dry the many fields he needs to plant.  I watch him out there, with his cup of coffee, walking around each machine checking to see that it is ready to be used this spring. This is the 43rd spring that I have watched this ritual. I am grateful and I am weary.

Barb, Thief River Falls, Minnesota

*****

On the rare March evening when the jungle kingdom of northern Thailand drops below one hundred degrees, I abandon the dim cool netherworld of air conditioning and blackout curtains for the fan-propelled humidity of the city. Around six a.m., the room fills with the brilliant pink-and-mango glow of the sun—that relentless orange beast, friendly and excessive, with which we are so familiar here—and the neighborhood is greeted with the almost-musical cacophony of motorbikes and tropical birds. They wrench off in a blur of noise to start their days, and my eyes creak open. So much for sleeping late.

I sit down to my desk and peer out the front-facing window. Behind the stretch of balconied houses and banana trees rise the mountains in a wall of smoke-dappled violet. The burning has just finished. I think of my friend's parents, among the farmers who have harvested their rice fields and lit the chaff, filling the city with smoke. Most days we only notice for the slight tickling sensation in our noses, and even that, we don't mind much. It is a time of celebration, when skinny students bring back massive bags of their parents' crop and eat freely for months. And now has come the earned reward of long sleep, perfect for lethargic hot season—if you can sleep through the tireless beauty of this place. 

Dori, Chiang Mai, Thailand

*****

Love my big back yard

Two plus hours to beautify

Very worth the wait

 

Jay, Humble, Texas

*****

*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date

*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.

© 2014 Tamara Jorell. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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