Monday, April 22, 2013

After Lockdown

It was the view whenever I settled with my library copy of The Little Stranger during last Friday's lockdown. The mood that Sarah Waters creates around a decaying country house in 1940s England matched the uncertainty of the Boston day that had to be spent inside. I kept the volume of the television in the next room as low as I could and moved through long chapter after long chapter. The quiet was not unwelcome. The leisure, unexpected though it was and mandated by a host of authorities, was something I could handle. Living alone, I profited on Friday from being someone used to his own company. No one was going to be seated in that armchair across from my leather couch. At least not for another twenty-four hours. And then...welcome guest! Hospitality did its healing work. Air moved again in helpful ways.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Early Spring Green

Last night I went to the windows in one of the front rooms facing the street. It is a nightly routine of mine before heading to bed to go from room to room of my second-floor apartment and draw the shades. It is less a concern for privacy and more a way to stave off the inevitable cooling of the rooms once the heat is off.

I always have a chance to look outside just before I pull each shade. On rare occasions someone is walking down the street or standing patiently while the dog on a leash sniffs the bottom of a neighbor’s tree. No one ever looks up at me while I am drawing the shades, so I tend to take my time.

From my second-storey vantage point I sometimes look directly into the branches of the trees in front of my neighbors’ house. A street lamp on that side of the street makes it easy to figure out whether on a particular night it is windy or rainy or, a few weeks ago, snowing.

Last night, however, all was still. The bare branches created their usual pattern, crisscrossing one another. It was a quiet neighborhood night in the middle of April, not particularly cold and not particularly warm to judge by the inside air right next to the window panes.

For whatever reason, my vision fast forwarded to the end of May. I had a sudden recall of the view from these windows my first month in the apartment. I knew for certain that the four or five weeks ahead would cover these bare branches with early spring green. Leaves would emerge with each morning and each evening. Branches that now allowed a clear view of a neighbor’s house would increasingly veil it.

In four or five weeks there will again be great, abundant life high above these sidewalks. The street lamp will nightly spotlight one area of lush green. Something vast will have rolled back over this patch of earth. Stubborn, familiar hopes will feel justified.