Looking out of the Window
Updated: Jun 15
Watching them watching us watching them.
My little office is at the front of our house. It overlooks a short busy path which leads to The Allotments. Many people pass along here even in the current situation, wheeling wheelbarrows, walking the dog or three (does anyone just have a singular dog anymore?), carrying home muddy vegetables.
I often wave. They wave back at the strange woman who always seems to be at the window, own-working as usual.
Sometimes passers-by stop if I'm outside and give me a leek. Which is very kind and starts a bit of a chat.
Over the past few weeks I've noticed a shift in the demographic of these wayfarers and an increase in the number of them. At least I think I have. It might just be me standing at the window more as I seem to be drawn to gazing around listlessly at the moment.
These walkers, typically small family groups new to the allotment path, stumble along like they've been let of a dark place, blinking at the newness of everything. They peer about pointing at novelties like a bush or my neighbour's gnome collection, which it has to be said, is remarkable. If they make it to the allotments they'll be able to see geese and hens and a tatty old horse.
They have the air of being on holiday, these families, just off the plane and awkwardly taking in the local sights for the first time. In fact they live around the corner and have done for the last ten years. I know because we all moved onto the estate at the same time and I've seen the car being driven in and out ever since.
Now they're on suburban safari, finally getting round to checking out the locale, a decade after they moved in.
The kids seem happy about this, jumping around, responding to the great outdoors. The parents tend to look more unsure, on foot and in unknown territory beyond their own driveway. She looks tentative, worried that the kids might hurt themselves tripping over a snail. He looks a bit put upon, like he'd rather still be tuned into the footie re-runs he started watching in the early hours of this morning.
They hang together a little self consciously. Perhaps they're worried that people are looking out of the window and commenting on their expedition. They always look more relaxed and friendly on the way back.
I hope they enjoy their walks but I wish they wouldn't treat other people's houses like show homes in an estate agent's window, openly assessing their value. (I overheard a large group doing it to my house one day, my window being open. [Shockingly low, if you must know.])
'Hi, recognise me?' I want to call out, 'I'm your actual neighbour. The one that lets you by every morning in your car.' But I don't.
Because really I'm happy for them at being able to get out as a family at last and experience - hopefully enjoy - what's always been available to them on their doorstep: the allotments of course; a small wood with lots of wildlife - even deer; a fen with all sorts of birds and wild flowers; a railway walk and a truly green and pleasant dene.
We're so very lucky here. Without Coronavirus and lockdown and the sheer boredom of it all, these families might never have been driven out of the house and off the estate to discover what they've been missing. Long may it continue. The exploration that is, not the virus.
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Jane Anderson PhD specialises in Sociospacial Reciprocity and Place Therapy. She's been working in wellbeing for nigh on 30 years and is especially interested in the people-place relationship and how it underpins all other aspects of staff engagement and wellbeing. Her Staff Wellbeing Framework Model is now charter-marked for quality assurance. www.jcaconsult.co.uk / 07742942651
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