Today, I took a raking-break in and from our backyard. I sat on the swinging bench in the shade on our patio, looking north. The storm (tornado or 100 mph straight line winds) has changed our yard from 90% shade to 90% sun. Today I noticed our next door neighbor’s shed crushed beneath a tree. Before the storm, the shed was hidden by woods. Another strange thing is to see a neighbor’s blue tarped roof – so common a sight around here these days. The thing is, I never realized there was a house that close to us! Then, during my work break-pause, a ‘dart’ caught my eye. I looked out and realized I can now see and hear traffic on busy four-lane Columbia, three blocks away. Before the storm Columbia Avenue was also hidden from our yard by one hundred foot tall oaks.
I feel so exposed. Of course, getting dressed each morning in the living room, because that’s where our dressers are while our bedroom walls get replaced, doesn’t help.
With our trees gone, I no longer feel I am part of a quaint, forested neighborhood, but now part of a city. My eyes have city vision from our property v.s. the wooded park-like area we moved into seven years ago.
Okay. The good side to being exposed? (Think. Think. Brainstorm.)
First, I get to see my neighbors more – physically. It makes us more neighborly, I think, to have to eyeball one another.
Secondly, I get to see Baby Hawk, who is also exposed. The red-tail hawk couple built a nest in the tree across the street a couple of months ago. As the trees leafed-out in early May, I’d lost sight of the hawks, although I could occasionally hear them. Their tree survived the storm. The baby chick flaps to the top of a tree at the end of our driveway, and sits on the top dead branch for most of the day. Yes, it sits. I’m not sure it’s coordinated enough to call what it does as roosting.
Thirdly, when the hot air balloons come, like they do every 4th of July, and I hear the “fffft” overhead, I’ll be able to run out and see where the balloons are right away v.s. having to hunt for them through the leaves and branches like some grand puzzle search.
And fourthly, on clear nights, I can see constellations, entire constellations, instead of merely a star here and a star there.
So, how can I pull this back into writing? Setting. This post is definitely all about setting, and perhaps a bit about what a person’s (character’s) reaction is to her surroundings.