Cloudman used to advise everyone to Look Up! But winter isn’t the best time to appreciate the sky. Looking up at dryer lint for most of the season is not particularly inviting.
Windows are different. When we lived in Michigan, our views were positively entertaining. This may be why we stopped watching TV – why do that when there’s so much going on outside?
We’re not talking about the line of cops standing shoulder to shoulder in riot-gear half a block away in 1972 when anti-war protesters were demonstrating. We rarely looked out the front and side windows, which offered empty views of a street and driveway. No, we’re thinking of the kitchen and den windows, both of which looked out into the back yard.
Bright cardinals stood out as they flew on to the huge evergreen. Pert little chipmunks popped their heads up atop hollow fence posts as they scampered around underground along the edge of the yard. We loved our garden, even in its winter nakedness, and never tired of looking at it from the windows in the -30º weather.
Windows really showed their stuff in our next house in the Oregon Coast Range. Each side offered a different habitat and landscape. We saw baby swallows learning to fly from our kitchen window, Oregon juncos from the living room picture window, ubiquitous robins and scrub jays everywhere.
Now vehicles began to attract our attention. It was the first time we knew almost everyone driving on the road. Imagine the thrill of a former city person being able to wave to everyone we passed! We quickly learned that you wave whether you know them or not, because you are likely to become a friend in short order. The landscape was surprisingly unchanging – almost all vegetation was green, evergreen or deciduous.
All that changed in the house in an idyllic small town in the Willamette Valley. On a corner lot in an intimate neighborhood just half a block, again, from a main street. No demonstrations now, but lots of log trucks; tractor-trailors carrying all the commerce a county like ours needed: grocery products, fish, waste products going to the dump, heavy construction equipment, and steel re-bar; farm machinery; and trucks carrying loads of hay, corn, beans.
The wildlife included nutcrackers, scrub jays, robins, crows, Oregon juncos, wrens; overhead were geese heading north, or south; plus, possums, feral cats, increasingly annoying deer (!), and possibly a skunk.
Now, we’re out in the country again. This location has all the benefits of all of our previous living places and then some. The evergreens are here, some deciduous trees, not many birds, but deer and moles or gophers are everywhere. The vehicle traffic is similar, but adds hazelnuts. Also, lots of horses all around – all the benefits and none of the work for us!