The world outside my office window unfolds like a movie from first glow of dawn to evening frog song. Below it, the birdfeeder hangs by the porch. Throughout the day birds land in the honey-locust tree to check for safety before flying down. I can see them from my computer table.
It was one of the things I liked best about this house when we first came looking to rent last summer. Two small bedrooms on the south side overlook the backyard and the pine plantation beyond. We could both have our own office spaces there. I did not fully appreciate this portal until winter when I began working from home. Then it became a companion.
Annie Dillard wrote the last half of her Pulitzer prize-winning memoir, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, in a college library carrel overlooking a gravel roof. She explained, “One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark,” quoted by Don Scheese in Nature Writing: The Pastoral Impulse in America. Dillard’s writing inspires me, but I doubt my creativity would thrive on such austerity. This window’s distractions seldom last half a minute.
Each day the cardinals come. Sometimes the brilliant male flies down, picks up a sunflower seed and delivers it to his mate before flying away on another errand. She is just as splendid, but nearly blends into the forest backdrop. Over the past month the dowdy goldfinches sprouted new sunny yellow plumage. Their merry music turns my head. The wary, glossy grackle, bellicose red-winged blackbird and strident blue jays all show their feathers in turn. The chickadees dart back and forth dozens of times each day. Tiny, curious and valiant, they are my neighbourhood favourites.
My friend, Apel Mjausson, says she has placed a fountain on the patio so she can see it from the couch. “There are often birds drinking and splashing around in it, but I also get to watch cats drink from it. Free and allergen-free entertainment.”
We have become inured to our office deserts. Creativity benefits from sensual stimuli. This Saturday evening while I write, the super moon rises slowly over the crowns of pines.
One sultry spring evening I sit writing late with the window open. Few sounds inspire such mystic ecstasy as the spring chorus. I never dreamed I would hear spring peepers from my office desk. Later the frogs fall silent when rain begins to hiss. A battalion of thunderclouds rolls invisibly across the dark.
All windows are like epic poems. Their perspectives cover many years and many seasons. Everything changes while a window looks on impassively. Mine connects me with the world, with life. It is a portal on the story of creation.
One day 23 cedar waxwings (photo by David Menke/ USFWS) land in the locust. Seeds do not appeal to them. They simply sit with the wind teasing their crests. The waxwing is my familiar, daemon, totem, but that long story has been told elsewhere, and I will tell it again. They are spirited, eccentric, gregarious birds. I cannot see or hear them without love tearing out of my chest. Before flying away they stay a few minutes, watching us at the window with our binoculars, as if to say: “Keep living and watching here a while.”