nature 07.26

If you live or work outdoors all day long, you don’t need to look out a window or a door to see nature. You’re in it, even if in a town or city. Many of us must work indoors for at least part, if not most, of the day. Work, school and other duties require us to be inside, even on lovely summer days.

Hopefully there are windows where we work. Every now and then I visit a place with no windows. I couldn’t work in a place like that. It’s hard enough for me to be indoors even with floor-to- ceiling doors and windows. I’m always looking out to see what I can see. I long to be outdoors, even when the weather is iffy.

At home my studio/office looks out on my back yard and I can watch birds at the feeder or foraging in the bushes and trees when taking a mental break. At my day job, I look out over a driveway to a wooded area through expansive glass doors. Throughout the season various birds and animals entertain me.

Some people haven’t a choice. They are stuck indoors due to illness or injury. Windows give them an opportunity to watch the world go by, even if that world is small or mostly urban. Nature has a way of expanding into the tiniest, unfriendliest of spaces.

I’ve been dealing with a minor injury that ended up getting infected, so my own mobility has been affected over the last few weeks. The medicine has been worse than the injury, and I’ve been forced to stay off my feet and indoors for much of the time. It’s been frustrating and dull. Thank heavens for windows.

We live in a tiny house that is chockablock full of windows. It’s why we bought it over 30 years ago. It sits like a compass. One side faces squarely north and the opposite points south. Each side has its own charms at different points in the day. For years I’ve said that all I’d need if I became immobile was a window overlooking a garden and a bird feeder. It can keep me entertained for hours on end.

Summer is full of bird families marching around lawns and any scrap of weedy grass they can find while they forage for bugs and worms. Insects and other little invertebrates are hatching all over, and there is plenty of food out there for everyone, whether it be rabbit, fox or praying mantis.

The closer one looks at the small world presented by a window or two, the more you’ll see. Your house, office or car act as a blind, and nature will move about as if you were invisible. Perhaps a moth will land on your window. Just the other day I watched a garden snail slowly ascend one of our screens. It glimmered with a golden yellow as it made its way higher and higher. I’m not sure where it thought it was going as it left the safety of vegetation behind. It would be easy picking for a hungry bird or could dry out in the sun, but it was lovely to behold in that moment. I have to admit I tapped the screen, so it fell back into the garden below.

At work I’ve watched a parade of bird families and a squirrel family learn the ropes. Rabbits chew on dandelions and grass only a few feet from me. Chipmunks stop to peer in through the glass doors and a fine array of butterflies flutters by.

If you know someone who is housebound, think about setting up a comfy chair for him or her by a window. If possible, add a bird feeder, though I know many complexes won’t allow them. Hopefully the view will include some bushes and trees, flowers and weeds. Planters full of flowers pollinators love could be arranged, where the homebound can enjoy the daily show of bees and butterflies as well as hummingbirds, catbirds and orioles.

The world outside our windows will never replace the one we can wander through freely out our back doors. Sometimes, though, it’s the best we have. Make your view a great one,and keep it a little wild, no matter where you live. And, maybe help someone else enjoy their view, too. It will help you both feel better.

Mary Richmond is an artist, writer, naturalist and educator who grew up on the Cape and lives in Hyannis. Visit www.capecodartandnature.com.

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