Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Change in Perspective

or From Inside Out

I celebrated fall this week by cleaning the kitchen window.   The screen has been surgically extracted and stored in the garage, the panes have been rinsed and shined inside and out, and the cushions on the bench next to the kitchen window have been plumped and poofed.  We are ready for cold weather to set in.

The kitchen window is the only one in my little townhouse that offers a view of the garden, or of anything besides urban hardscape.  Elsewhere on the ground floor, the view is mostly of concrete sidewalks, gravel drives, cinder block yard walls, and stucco house walls.  The postage-stamp front and side landscape beds are tiny, tiny, tiny.  Small shrubs and perennials do well in them, but they are too small to be visible from the interior.  And once it gets cold, we're all about interiors.

So the kitchen bench and kitchen window have officially been prepped to be sat on and looked out of, respectively.*  In a mild sort of way, it's nice to see things from a new angle—and a definite pleasure to see them cleanly and clearly.  Without a scrim of dust and water spots, suddenly I am aware of the patio table looking more ornamental than functional; of the colors in the micro-garden, backlit by the morning sun;  of the trees, seen obliquely to the patio's "queen's eye view."  The process has set me to thinking in a mild sort of way about angles, viewpoints, perspectives:  the difference in looking out at the garden from shelter rather than experiencing it directly; the perception of the garden—the outdoors—as the storm rather than the haven; the sense almost of alienation—that now, officially, the indoor and outdoor worlds are separate from one another, with stern partitions between them, rather than the open screens that allow interior and exterior to blend, minus the wasps.

Vision is such a distancing sense.  All the others—hearing, touch, taste, smell—bring sensation to your body; only vision sets things apart from you.  My writing, my inspiration for the last few months, has relied on direct experience:  the idiosyncrasies of fall-blooming crocuses, the hot air balloons drifting overhead, the flight of the sandhill cranes.  Much of the experience has been visual, yes, but vision rested in a rich context and was rendered all the more savory by the other senses—the perhaps sub-conscious awareness of a warm breeze, the background music of finches and bumblebees, the random exclamation points provided by hummingbirds.  Soon, vision will be standing on its own most of the time.

As someone whose blog is not about the garden per se, but whose writing is largely drawn from experiences in the garden, and as someone who has committed to posting twice a week, I'm curious how the next few months will pan out.  Mind you, we just had our first frost last night and still have several weeks before the real "dead of winter" strikes.  Wild Thing autumn sage will probably bloom until Christmas, winter will last long enough for me to get the pruning done, and at that point the crocuses will be coming up.  This isn't exactly Alaska.  But still—if you find me yakking for the sake of yakking (that is, more than is required by the very idea of blogging), or just writing to fulfill my quota, even if I have nothing particular to say, feel free to let me know.

In a mild sort of way.  : )


* If anyone can think of a way to turn those phrases so that they don't end in a preposition or two, I would love to hear it.  On a side note, E. B. White once offered an example of a perfectly clear sentence that ended in five prepositions.  Picture a little boy going upstairs to bed whose father wants to read him a bedtime story that the boy doesn't like.  The boy says, "What did you bring that book I don't want to be read to out of up for?"


  1. I thought from those first two photos that you must be in New Mexico... Your writing and garden are full of that warm southwestern light that I love! I'll enjoy reading future posts.

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by, Zoe—I look forward to getting better acquainted with you and your posts as well. PA greenery is a far cry from southwestern sunlight! :)

  3. It is startling sometimes how one small change can dramatically alter perspective. For instance, after Dan got rid of our rusty patio table, I realized that our back deck (upon which the table had stood) is truly huge! It had looked merely average-sized prior to that.

    Prepositions are a mixed blessing. I am surprised how often they sneak to the end of my sentences :0)

  4. klbrowser—It really is startling. Big Sister, who knows exactly how tiny my yard is, commented that the photos made it look huge just because they're taken at a different angle than she's used to seeing.

    Congratulations on suddenly acquiring a huge back deck. :)