‘Windows on the World’

The Times publishes a column entitled “Windows on the World,” in which writers describe what they see when they look out their windows. Each short essay includes a pen-and-ink drawing by Matteo Pericoli.

Unlike Daniel Kehlman “The Invisible Wall,” I would never ever try to ignore the view through my window. I derive inspiration from the daily changing of the light from bright morning slanted shadows to the setting sun, which turns the house across the street from white to rosy pink. Then there are the seasonal changes. The lawns transform from green to gold to brown, the trees from their leafy shade of summer to blackened angles of winter. Even the passing of the walkers, joggers, bikers fascinates. I confess that I do find it distracting sometimes to watch whether the dog walkers pick up after their canines and whether the kids alight from the school bus without coats in the 20-degree weather. But then again I don’t have anything as dramatic as the not-Berlin Wall to ignore.

Window on the World

North London Day Dreams” has the bifurcation I see, but with a vertical rather than a horizontal split. I love the way the angles of the shadows, the angles of the house, and the angles of the panes of glass form geometric shapes. Even the house next door doesn’t mar the view. It just adds another couple of angles.  Like Andrea Levy I gaze at a goodly chunk of sky and let the unstructured thoughts float through. Often when I look, the thoughts take on structure. Even when they don’t I’ve gained from just watching. Nothing as exciting as a television studio occupies the area, and I am grateful for the peace and quiet, fortunate that the neighborhood elementary school is far enough away that I do not hear the children during recess.

Orhan Pamuk (“Turkish Delight,”) is the most fortunate of the windows watchers to date. He has two continents spread out before him, and visible reminders of the history that stretches back centuries. Almost too grand to contemplate. But reassuring, too, as he says, because the view is always there. The closest I have those reminders of history is the cemetery. A constant statement about the evanescence of life. It is also reassuring, with its solid rows of stones large and small, marching up the hill toward the stand of trees. Late afternoon sunlight hits one of the polished granite stones and it shines, a beacon of immortality.


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