Spring has arrived. I live in the bay area of California where the sky can be blue, blue, blue and not streaked with a single cloud. It can be sunny even in March when the TV displays photos of people shoveling snow. Today in April just after Easter and Passover it is cool outside, but the sky is blue this morning, with a few thin scraps of clouds.
I look out my corner windows. Nothing extraordinary to see, but it was this corner of windows that gave me courage when my mind had the proverbial writer’s bloc while writing The House on Harrigan’s Hill.
The windows are built from six panes of double-paned glass with the latest locks and handles to open them. California laws tell the contractor where to put windows to jump and be saved from a fire or to keep robbers at bay. You just need to remember which is which.
The six-paned window was chosen because we loved that style when we bought the house. They are surrounded by white woodwork that we copied when we remodeled. They are in the corner of the room so I have to turn my head away from my computer to see the deodara. I can only see the middle of it, the tree has grown so fast and we have been here so long.
Outside the left window is a pittosporum with five green leaves and yellow around the edge of each. It is always a lovely plant whether it has its small flowers or only the leaves. It is a California native like the other bushes which grow so fast that our gardeners spend a lot of time cutting back. The bush by the right window is part of the group of red-stemmed manzanita, well-known to Californians even in the foothills that go up into the Sierra Nevada on the western side.
On a sunny late afternoon, the pittosporum leaves are almost chartreuse. On the other hand, the deodara has grown high since long ago when we did have a spectacular accident. One night a drunk driver crashed into our yard, but swerved to miss the growing tree. Now it stands a dark guard with its trunk and abundance of branches spreading over the smaller plants.
Not many squirrels hide nuts near my windows. They prefer the large yard at the back where they can run along the fence. I don’t see many small birds today either, but in the summer little common birds flit around. I hear crows all the time. I don’t keep a bird feeder for the local hummingbirds as my husband says they die if we forget to fill it. He doesn’t want the responsibility.
Once in a while when I’m thinking and looking, I hear a pop and the dry cones from the deodara break apart and parts of the cone fall on the ground. By March they have all popped and shells have fallen on the path until the gardeners come.
Even when I wasn’t up in Truckee in the Sierra I could still imagine the ground and the native bushes and trees that would be there. Words for The House on Harrigan’s Hill would finally come to me as I gazed out the windows.
original post - March 20, 2012