From my perch in my office, I overlook our front yard and its trees, part of Barrett Avenue, and the houses of our across-the-street neighbors. I admit that sometimes what’s going on outside the window is much more interesting that what’s going on in my office.
Our neighbors have some teenaged boys who like to invite their friends over to throw a football around. Their yard isn’t quite big enough, however, to give the boys a good opportunity to develop their spirals, and so they play catch in the street. I get a little anxious when I see them flipping the ball around in the middle of Barrett; traffic gets a little fast sometimes and I’m not sure that drivers are watching. It’s one thing to watch for a little child to chase a ball from a yard, but it’s another thing to suddenly come upon a football team running a down and out pattern among cars parked on the side of the street.
The same neighbors got a little puppy a couple of months ago. I can’t determine the breed, but it is a little white thing, perky and playful, and it loves to run. I laughed for a long time a few weeks ago as the puppy’s master chased it across the yard. The human would take a few steps toward the little thing, and it would dash clear to the other end of the yard, flinging itself down unexpectedly, tummy flat on the ground, tail wagging, pink tongue panting; the human took another few steps toward the pup, and it would take off again, reveling in the joy of running. Watching the puppy play made me happy for the rest of the day. For a while, I thought about getting another dog, but I came to my senses and simply enjoyed the fun from my office window.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been watching the trees change color and then drop their leaves. The ash trees in our front yard are always the first to show bare limbs, but that gives me a better view of the other trees in the neighborhood, most of which turn beautiful colors for six weeks or so.
Unfortunately, my favorite tree is gone now, lost in one of the big storms a few years back. For about two weeks in the fall every year when Emily was growing up, I would go into her room in the mornings to wake her up simply to see the soft pink light that came through her window as the Menefees’ big maple tree turned various shades of red and orange. Though that tree is no longer around, Barrett still offers plenty of beautiful foliage that gives me a nice break from my computer screen.
I can also see the neighbors’ front porch fall decorations. The Halloween décor was appropriately spooky, and the remaining pumpkins are short-lived. Soon, maybe even this weekend, they will put up their Christmas lights and begin decorating for the next season. Then, though the days are short, I can find comfort in seeing those lights each night.
Every now and then, I watch people out walking their dogs, most of them carrying plastic bags to pick up what the dogs leave behind. The dogs trot along on their leashes, almost smiling, as their owners walk dutifully and solemnly behind them, allowing them to sniff and inspect and investigate – and do that other thing.
One of the dog walkers looks a great deal like a good friend of ours, even striding much like him, and I have to remind myself he is not Kevin because he has the wrong dog. Oddly enough, Kevin’s daughter, who lives in the neighborhood, has a boxer that resembles another boxer that lives somewhere close. Every time I see that dog, I think it is walking with the wrong owner.
When I’m pulling out my hair trying to finish a project or a piece, looking out the window provides me the opportunity to relax, breathe more easily, and watch the world go by. Then of course, I notice that I haven’t yet washed those windows. Oh, well. Maybe next spring.
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.