I had witnessed the scene many times before as I looked out the second story window. One squirrel was digging acorns out of a frozen gutter. Another sat atop the neighbor children’s swing set, munching away. On the ground, a squirrel was being chased by another. Was love in the air, or were they playing tag?
No matter. It was squirrels doing what squirrels do best – going nuts over nuts and each other.
This live action short was taking place as I peered through the viewfinder known as our bathroom window. The set was our yard and the world beyond.
I’ve been looking out a bathroom window in this house for 36 years, albeit at contrasting views. The original location was on the west wall where the tub is located. Imagine being able to watch a sunset or squirrels doing a high wire act on a telephone cable as you wash the daily grime away under the spray of the shower. How relaxing, right?
Not in this case. Unfortunately, the scene was comprised of sky and the roof of the neighboring house. Uninspiring at best.
When it came time to renovate the bathroom, the window was moved to the south wall. Consequently, I have been able to enjoy a 30-years-long movie, with soundtrack, day and night through all the seasons. It has been worth the price of admission via the remodeling costs, which in the greater scheme of things were minimal.
Like many people, my day begins in the bathroom. Small by some standards, it is not tricked out with a coffee maker, radio, TV or heat lamps. I go in, attend to the tasks at hand and move on. Except for one thing – the view. It has a way of latching on to you. Stop! Look! Listen!
It doesn’t matter when I visit the necessary room: I make time to enter the world beyond.
On a cold winter’s day, I might watch dark-eyed juncos, visitors from Northern climes now wintering in Lima as they flit about the honeysuckle branches looking for tiny morsels to fuel their bodies. Over yonder a female cardinal moves about in the arborvitae along the fence, looking for food or a nest site. As spring creeps ever closer, she will be serenaded by her smartly attired suitor.
The cardinals allow me to reflect on my late mother. Mom liked cardinals.
Unless you are a coffee drinker, which I’m not, there is, in my mind, no better way to start your day than by rejoicing to the song of a robin. Or to watch said birds build a nest for the first brood of the season in the branches outside the window. Except one day you look out and find a tattered, incomplete nest. What went wrong?
When the switch is flipped, cutting the power on the last rays of daylight, and my world becomes shrouded in darkness, I stand, ears to the window. What will I hear. Screech and barred owls; maybe a good cat fight?
Late one night, as I was preparing to put the day to bed, I noticed a neighbor in his driveway at his car. It’s surprising how well an exclamation like, “Ouch, dammit!” travels in the night air, even from nearly a block away.
Be careful folks. You never know who might be listening – from the confines of their bathroom.
Along with the sounds of wildlife are the laughter and chatter and sometimes crying of children as they play on the swing or in the sandbox outside our window. But it’s not just in Lima.
A few years ago, when our daughter Chilali and her husband Chris were living in London, the bathroom window in their flat allowed for a splendid view of a small neighborhood park, just yards away. It was a smorgasbord of sights and sounds: April flowers in their glory, while young children scampered about as doting grandparents, nannies and parents kept watch.
Looking out that window gave me a sense that all was well with the world. That it would indeed be a fine day in London town. I called it "the view from the loo."
From our window I’ve witnessed the elements at work. Jaw-dropping sunrises and sunsets and moon shadows that redefine how I look at the giant white oak in the backyard. I’ve watched 50 mph gusts toss that tree in a gale, while those same gusts lashed its bark with driving rain.
The confluence of different weather systems has showered us with snow this winter. One recent morning, as my wife Karen was leaving, she called up to me: “Look out the bathroom window. It’s snowing.”
I pulled my lazy butt out of bed and headed for the bathroom, where my bleary eyes jumped to life. Oversize flakes, looking like tiny doilies, floated as though they might land on miniature pieces of furniture. Instead, they landed on a gaggle of colorful concrete geese. Beauty.
Whenever I look down at the yard, I see the spot where Karen and I stood one August day, looked into each other’s eyes and said “I do.” Right over there, where during the ceremony my now late father, lover of trees, told us he liked Karen and the oak tree. Dad’s gone, the tree shades the house and memories live on.
Spring is around the corner, and with it will come a bevy of sights and sounds. A carpet of buttercups so thick you could cut it with a butter knife. And an avian symphony, followed by summer flowers and goldfish in the water garden. And perhaps, the laughter of children to replace that which left when Corbin and Aiden recently moved.
Autumn will bring colors to the oak leaves and winter … Well, we’ll wait and see. Maybe a squirrel digging for acorns in a frozen gutter.
In all of this there is one constant.