Tuesday, 19 May 2020

View From the Crow's Nest: I check out the neighbourhood.

Another log from View from the Crow's Nest logbook:

May 11: Went for a walk around the block this morning. It’s about time – I have so slacked off on this. When I do walk, it’s usually into the woods to experience solitude and silence. But today, I decided to check out the neighbourhood. It’s where people live, people like you and me, all coping with the pandemic in their own way. I’m a bit of a recluse, and I recognize that could get me into trouble eventually, because social interaction is just as important in the long run to your health as social isolation is in this time of pandemic.

So here’s what I saw:

I saw that many people had posted hearts and teddy bears in their windows and on their fences, visual messages of solidarity and gratitude. “We are all in this together” is what these symbols are saying. “My heart beats with your heart.”

I saw and chatted with a few neighbours. The toothless old man down the block is outside with another younger fellow. Dave used to be a social worker. Now he does social work: he takes in men who are having a hard time getting their lives on track. He helps them find jobs, then makes sure they show up at work every morning, watching over them until they are ready to move out. This morning he was telling me about one of “his boys” who works at Tim Horton’s and is very busy.

Okay, Dave’s yard is a bit of a mess, littered with boats and trailers and cars that might be projects for these young men to work on. But I can live with that when I know his story. Isn’t that the way it is? If you know the story, your boundaries widen.

I walked by another messy yard. I’d driven past the house on the corner several times.  Now I stopped to take a good close look. I saw that these folks had turned over the front yard to their children.

There was a makeshift sandbox scrabbled out of an empty patch of lawn. There was a makeshift tent structure, created with dead cedar branches bent over and tied together.

There was a little kitchen unit, complete with sink and counter, and little flags hanging over it as a makeshift curtain. There were cheerful messages painted on rocks. Shingles had been laid down to make pathways.

I smiled in recognition. My memory goes back to our backyard when our kids were young and rambunctious. There was a well-used trampoline for the kids to jump on. There was a sandbox with guy wires running up to the crabapple tree, where GI Joe figures slid up and down. There was a rabbit that had free reign in the yard, and ate every attempt I made to beautify the flower beds. There was a dog who buried things. There were buckets that served as goal posts for the soccer ball that got kicked around. There was a picnic table covered with craft supplies in the summer. There was a mother in the kitchen wondering when she would ever create some order out of the mess and have a yard that resembled those of Better Homes and Gardens

Now she knows: there’s time enough for beauty and tranquility in the garden after the kids are gone.

And I saw two butterflies, a little blue one and a big fancy one, and a swallow swooping by. It was a good walk.


  1. A good walk indeed! A blessing to live in a neighbourhood with good people. I love your photos, especially the little kitchen unit. The trough of herbs, each plant with with its own label, stole my heart. And the riot of colours and sheer business of it all. I suspect you'll be following that route around the neighbourhood again before too long Jessie.

    1. Thanks, Mina. I had not been checking the comments I'd been getting on the blog until now, so sorry for the late reply. I had a lovely chat with the lady at whose house I found the "mess" -- I'll share that in another blog. It's all about community.

  2. What a lovely walk!! And, yes, when you know people's stories, it sure broadens our horizons :-).

  3. Sorry about the late reply to this. Thanks for your comments. In these days of turmoil, especially, knowing the stories behind the news is so important. My heart hurts for all the violence we're seeing, a violence that has its roots stretching way back.