LOOKING OUT THROUGH MY WINDOWS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I am not an outdoorsy person. I’d go so far as to say that I am predominantly an indoor person. I like the regulated temperatures on the inside. I also like the absence of bugs and wind, let alone rain and snow and other types of weather.

On the other hand, I absolutely love LOOKING outside. I am a huge fan of windows. My house has lots and lots of them. I have a rounded porch that is all windows. My bedroom has two walls of windows. The bed is in the middle of the room so that it is surrounded by all of the windows.

This makes my house horribly energy inefficient. As a result, my heating and cooling bills are high. But it’s worth it for me.

I built my house in the woods, overlooking a stream and a small waterfall on one side. I wanted to be able to look out at nature 24/7. And I wanted natural light everywhere in the house. I want nature and light all around me, in every room inside my house. I just don’t want to actually be outside in it. Looking at it through my wonderful windows is fine with me.

I’ve always been ever so slightly agoraphobic. My home is my happy place or my safe space. There are times when I don’t want to go out at all. I often consolidate my errands so I have to go out only a few days a week. That leaves me several days when I can just stay home. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with wanting to look out at nature from indoors. But in my mind, they’re related.

Next to my home, the thing I love the most is our boat. Now, boating is considered an outdoor sport. But in my case, it’s not. My boat is a floating condo. It’s a miniature apartment or house with a comfortable and spacious interior. But of course, I only wanted a boat that had lots of big windows. I can look out at the water and the other boats all the time. The deck on the boat is a screened in porch on three sides. Technically, there is no outdoor living space at all on the boat!

You can see the fully enclosed but windowed deck on our boat

So, even when I’m on the water, I’m inside, enjoying the outside through windows and screens. I’m fine with that.

View from our boat in the marina

At home, we don’t even have to go outside to walk the dogs. We installed a doggie door and fenced in a huge area in the backyard for the dogs. We are the rare dog owners who never have to go outside because of our dogs. We do go outside with them for a few minutes most days to get them to run around and chase each other. And we do have to walk the dogs when we have them on the boat with us. So in that way, boating does get us outside more than usual.

When I lived in New York City, I walked outside all the time and loved the freedom of being able to get almost everything I needed in my own neighborhood. I also used to play tennis and ski a lot. I have experienced the joys of outdoor sports. But that was a long time ago. And I don’t miss them now.

My kitchen table looking out at the yard and the stream/waterfall

Now I’m content sitting in my kitchen, looking out at the trees and the waterfall, watching the birds and the dogs. I’d be bereft if I could only look out at other buildings, a city street or something else man-made and unattractive. But give me my nature on the other side of the window please.

Don’t make me GO OUT THERE!

WHAT FOREST?

CAN YOU SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES?


As early as the 1500s, “you can’t see the forest for the trees” was in wide enough use that it was published in collections of proverbs and slang. As anyone who has been in a forest knows, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just looking at the individual trees, rather than considering the forest as a whole.


According to the “saying,” it’s really easy to lose the forest while you are looking at a tree.

Is that true? When you look at a tree, do you forget you’re in a forest? Is it that easy to forget the larger picture because you can only see part of it? Do we forget we are in a city because we’re looking at a building? Do we forget we are reading a book because we are looking at one page? At the risk of arguing with a “known fact,” I don’t need to see the whole city to know I’m in one.

Meanwhile, I really do live in a forest. Not an allegorical or metaphorical forest. We have a whole lot of trees covering a substantial amount of terrain. Our house is right on the edge of it. The forest is primarily red oak trees, with some other hardwood and a bare hint of pine. We used to have a walnut tree, but it went down in a hurricane years back.

If you live in a woods, it’s true that you can’t see the whole forest, but it doesn’t mean you don’t know it’s there.

Unless you looking down from a helicopter, you will never see the whole forest, yet I’m sure all of us can deduce, infer, and assume the larger picture. Whether or not you can see it in its entirety changes nothing. You see trees, but your brain believes “forest.” Not seeing the whole picture does not mean you don’t know there is one

Photo: Garry Armstrong

How many trees I can see from my house depends on where I am. From the back deck, I see forest. Fewer trees from the front or side of the house. But what’s the difference between the forest and the trees? Isn’t a forest just a bunch of trees? How many trees do you need before it’s a forest (rather than a bunch of trees)? Is there a definition?

Despite this, I bet you can tell the different between a group of trees and a forest every time, without assistance.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Parts of things embody the spirit of the whole. This is how we understand our world and ourselves. No matter what piece you look at, you retain awareness of its connection to something larger. We are individuals, but part of a family, a company, clan, tribe. Humanity as a whole. Without this fundamental grasp of reality, we could not live in the world.

So how do you know whether you’re looking at a single tree, or standing at the edge of a forest? Look around. If you see a lot more trees, put your money on “forest.” If you see a parking lot and a Walmart sign? Think “mall.” Of course, the Walmart could be at the edge of the forest. but I think you’ll work it out.

TREES AND THE FOREST

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YOU CAN’T SEE THE FOREST FOR THE TREES.

As early as the 1500s, “you can’t see the forest for the trees” was in wide enough use that it was published in collections of proverbs and slang. As anyone who has been in a forest knows, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just looking at the individual trees, rather than considering the forest as a whole.

Is it really that easy to forget the larger picture if you can only see part of it? Do we forget we are in a city because we’re looking at a building? Really?

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I live in a forest. Not an allegorical or metaphorical one. The real deal. Mainly oak. Some sassafras, maple, and beech. A hint of pine. We used to have a walnut tree, but it went down in a hurricane a few years back.

If you live in a woods, it’s hard to see the forest, but that doesn’t mean you don’t know it’s there. Unless you looking down from above, you can never see a whole forest. But we deduce, infer, assume the larger picture.

Whether or not you can see it changes nothing. You eyes see trees, but your brain knows otherwise. Not seeing the whole picture does not mean you don’t know there is one

window late afternoon

How many trees I can see from my house depends on where I am. From the back deck, I see forest. Fewer trees from the front or side of the house. But what’s the difference between the forest and the trees? Isn’t a forest just a bunch of trees? How many trees do you need before it’s a forest (rather than a bunch of trees)? Is there a definition?

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Despite this, I bet you can tell the different between a group of trees and a forest every time, without assistance.

We don’t need to see the whole forest to know it’s there.

Parts of things embody the spirit of the whole. This is how we understand our world and ourselves. No matter what piece you look at, you retain awareness of its connection to something larger. We are individuals, but part of a family, a company, clan, tribe. Humanity as a whole. Without this fundamental grasp of reality, we could not live in the world.

72-Amerherst-Downtown

So how do you know whether you’re looking at a single tree, or the edge of a forest? Look around. If you see more trees, put your money on “forest.” If you see a parking lot or a giant Walmart sign? Think “mall.”

Getting There Is Not Always Enough … Marilyn Armstrong

We didn’t get to ride this one.

Yesterday, we went to Busch Gardens. We did nothing, got wet, walked too much, came back exhausted, soggy and poorer. We seem to have absolutely impeccable timing for getting places at exactly the wrong time!

We didn’t get to ride this either.

We planned carefully and sensibly. We figured that if we went late in the day, it would be cooler and probably less crowded too. Logical right? I mean, the park‘s open until 10 at night, so getting there at 3:30 should leave us more than ample time to whatever we wanted and ride whatever we wanted.

After we finally got through the long walk to the park from the very closest parking lot, we decided to take the train ride that loops around the park. It would give us something of an orientation, an overview.

After that we were nearly slavering with anticipation, we headed down the long road to Apollo’s Chariot, the first of the 6 big, bigger and biggest, baddest roller coasters we intended to ride.

We were at the front of the line on the platform, ready to board the ride. Which is when the announcement came that the ride was closing due to weather issues.

Not this one either.

Weather. Mainly, lightning. Not to mention wind and rain. So we stood around a bit, milled around in confusion, then eventually headed back the long road to the rest of the park.

With great anticipation, we waited for a weather update. We were in a code orange, which is bad, but the next announcement was “Code Red,” which was much worse and actually closed everything, except shops.

Shortly thereafter, the sky opened up and a sheet of water fell out. We stood under an awning speculating — along with everyone else — whether or not there was any chance the park would reopen.

Also, didn’t ride this one.

It did not reopen.

We hauled ass back to Guest Relations, where they were very gracious about the whole thing and seemed genuinely sorry that we come from so far away, didn’t get to do anything except eat a pretzel and get soaked. They refunded half the money because our friends had to leave today and we took rain checks and will make another stab at it tomorrow. We would have gone today, but the weather report doesn’t look promising and I couldn’t deal with the same scenario two days running.

The best experience of the day? The electric scooter that you can rent and drive around the park. I loved it! It was way zippier than I thought it would be and fun, too. Unfortunately, by the time I got it, I was already over-tired and when we finally got back to the hotel, having stopped at the grocery store in between and then cooking dinner … we had barely enough strength to climb into bed and pass out.

Today, the humidity is 99% and thunder storms are likely in the afternoon, so we  are going to go tomorrow morning when hopefully, it won’t be raining because that really IS our last chance.

Talk about disappointing! Nice that Garry and I get another shot at it, but I so wanted to go with my friend too … but … well … it didn’t happen and if there’s one thing you cannot count on, it’s usually the weather.

They’ve left now and it’s very quiet and feels kind of empty. I’m trying not to be a bit down-hearted, but it’s difficult.

Tomorrow is another day, I hope.

Mending Wall, Robert Frost

Wall by the paddock

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors‘.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

A stone fence along a country road.

A stone fence along a country road.

Editor’s note: Above was originally posted by Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated – EXCEPTIONALLY BLUE

Exceptionally Blue

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated – AUTUMN ALONG THE CANAL

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SATURATED – WET LEAVES ON GLASS

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated – Green Waters

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River water is not blue, unless it’s reflecting the sky. In shade, it is deep green, sometimes almost brown. Dark and rich, green with life, flowers, plants, fish.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns – White Mountain Bridge

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Just outside of Lincoln, New Hampshire, high in the White Mountains, a footbridge leads you into the woods onto a hiking trail. If you follow the trail, you will eventually find yourself at the top of one of the highest mountains in the region, a place where altitude equals weather and whatever you know in the lowlands is no longer true.

 

After the Fall

A beautiful, clear, cool day.

“Let’s go down to the pond,” I said and Garry agreed. We’ve been meaning to go for a while and this was as perfect a day as one could hope for.

It took me too long to figure out which cameras and lenses to bring, but eventually, I got myself organized. We found a beautiful little dam we’d never noticed before, probably because it’s behind a restored mill at the very southern end of Whitins Pond. I heard the sound of the rushing water and followed it. It’s not really so little. It’s not high as so many other local dams are, but it’s very long … a big crescent and rather oddly configured. The water doesn’t so much come over the top as come through the dam. I’ve never seen another like it.

Whitins Dam - 7

When I felt I had sufficiently photographed the dam, I thought I’d go across the street and see if any of the swans were out, or any of the geese. There was a lot of evidence that the geese have definitely set up residence nearby.

So, I turn around and was about to cross the road, sort of chicken-like. That’s when I fell down and smashed my face in the parking lot. Flat on my face. Good I have a big nose because that’s probably how come I still have front teeth.

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This was almost immediately after warning Garry to watch his feet and not trip. A humbling experience, my friends. I now look like an abused wife. A badly abused wife with band-aids all over my face. Glad I didn’t do this before the Hall of Fame excursion. It would have totally ruined the effect of the makeup and nice dress and hairdo and all that stuff.

The last time I looked like this, I had been whacked in the face by a horse flinging his head up (no martingale and he really should have been wearing one since the stable folks knew he was a chronic head-tosser). No matter what I said, absolutely everyone — including people who really should know better — were convinced Garry beat me. So this time, to avoid the inevitable rush to judgment, I suggested I should stay inside and out of public view until I don’t look quite so much like a street fighter who got the wrong end of the win-lose call. I already know no one will believe he didn’t punch me in the face. Except the dozen or so people who saw me fall in the parking lot.

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Good news? I didn’t break the camera (yay). The eyeglasses I was wearing are history, but I needed new ones anyway. I was awaiting a sign from God that I should buy a new pair. Be careful what you wish for. So now, I think I’ll just sit still and not do anything dangerous, like walk. Cook. Move. Just sit here. In front of the computer. Until I fuse with my hard drive.

However, other than “watch your feet, moron” there is a point to this story. If you are one of those people who believe “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” this is a perfect example of how untrue that is. Here’s a case where you can see a lot of smoke. Yet there is no fire at all and never was.

I’ve gotten a smashed face four times in my life. Twice, it was child abuse: my son as a toddler kicked me across the bridge of my nose with his heavy orthopedic shoe while we were playing. The next time, I was napping on the sofa and my clever 2-year-old decided to wake me by smacking me in the face with a marble ash tray. Toddler abuses mother. Film at 11! And then, when Garry and I were trail riding and the horse socked me with his skull. Do you know how hard the top of a horse’s head is? I’ll tell you. Very hard. Like a rock.

And finally, there was the time when I had a seizure and walked — while actually unconscious — into the lintel of the bathroom door and needed stitches to re-attach my nose.

Each time, someone wanted to bring the cops in and finger Garry as an abuser. I’m not saying abuse doesn’t happen. Quite the contrary, it happens far too often … but there are also too many assumptions made that ruin lives and reputations. Because things are not always what they seem. My motto? Wait for real evidence before you judge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways – Manchaug

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways – The October Tree

Weekly Photo Challenge: Snow Sky and the Day After

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Mid afternoon, the day before the biggest snow in 20 years — 29 inches fell that night in the valley, but more in other places not far away including Boston which got more than 30 inches — the sky had that peculiar luminosity that we call “a snow sky” in New England. Probably everywhere. There was already some snow cover from earlier snows. That’s what it’s like here. From first snow, as early as October until whenever spring decides to come … anytime from March through late April … the ground is white.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Gathering Clouds

storm coming

The clouds move in and the rain will follow. Until drops fall, there’s beauty to the dark of an oncoming storm. A sense of expectation. Maybe it’s the ozone in the air, the crackle of unexploded lightning. The river flows, uncaring, to its destination miles away.