• AbbieJW

At my window (Feb 2019)

Lately, I spend long stretches of my time standing at our living room window.

It is wide and the views are vast, and though this winter the temperature outside has been as close to freezing as it dares to get this far South, on bright days the sun simmers through the pane. Our cat lounges on the deep bench-like sill as on an August afternoon, playful and softened by the unexpected warmth.

The temperature control on one of our storage heaters is broken, too, so in the mornings the bricks belt out all of their heat, and the lounge is often toasty when it's empty, and cools off just in time for us to shiver in the evenings. The incongruous warmth reminds me of my grandfather's house, whose radiators were never off. In fact, most days I am struck by reminders of him. This is in part because his belongings are dotted around our walls and shelves - African carvings and dated paintings, and on the windowsill is a pair of binoculars, snug in a rust-coloured leather case that has his name and address written on it no less than four times (on the front, beneath the lid, in miniscule print on the leather strap, and on the bottom of the canister, just in case). They were always on his windowsill, looking over his vast view, in the warm house we would visit him in. 

I am often up first, or alone in the house, quiet in my morning solitude. On still days, the silence settles around the house and seeps inside, shifted only by occasional windy gusts, passing farm vehicles, and if you listen hard enough, the steady grumble the neighbour's radio. On these mornings I check to see what world I live in today. 

The view from the window changes every time you turn your back, as different after five minutes as it is after two days. Some days the dense fog has risen up from the sea or slid down the hills behind the house, and the known universe extends only a few metres away from the house, and beyond that shifting shades of white. On clear nights, we turn out the lights and the full moon illuminates the path like a spotlight. A whole encyclopedia of stars drifts across the pristine sky, and day by day the miraculous ingratiates itself into our mundane. 

Today, the light isn't playing any of its magnificent tricks and the sun sits guilty behind the clouds, as if she doesn't have the energy, as if her innards have turned to clay on this hopeless morning. The landscape simply exists. The lake is a flat slab of tarmac and the fields a muted jigsaw of varying shades of green and brown, little paint swatch samples arranged on the hillside. The windmills are not moving.

Some days, the ocean on the horizon seems to rise for miles above the land, a dark blue wall unfurling into the skies, sometimes dotted with idling ships and other times flecked with captured slivers of the sun. Today it is hardly there at all, a suggestion of colder blue sitting like a halo over the silhouette of the coastline. I know it's there, and seek it out, but one could just as easily choose not to see it at all. 

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