This place sits roughly 15 feet above the dirt road, so that I essentially look down on any passing traffic, which at this time of year, is still quite substantial. Trees grow along this north-facing slope at different heights, and one oak is close enough so that its branches are now nearly touching the siding. The combination of the height and the tree's proximity give the illusion that I am actually sitting in its branches like a bird from whose perch I am afforded the most marvelous view of life going on below.
I sit often at that particular window, primarily because of those branches. They are visible proof that these woods hold me in their vast arms in that ineffable way that trees have of providing comfort and security. On rainy days, their leaves glisten with moisture, the droplets clinging to their leathery surfaces before slipping off and falling to the earth. And on sunny days, they reflect the light, casting shadows upon the ground, upon this place and upon each other. High winds set the boughs to swaying, and in winter, when only a few dried reddish-brown stragglers remain, snowflakes accumulate in the tiny bends created by leaf stems protruding from branches. The drama of an entire year of seasons can be observed in these few branches, one from which I never tire and that, on some days, is able to restore calm to my innermost workings.
I got a notion a few years ago to grab my loppers and trim that back slope of all of its excess growth. Lots of things grow there, some whose names I know, and others that would require a bit more research to identify. I was ruthless in my cutting, and the result was a neatly trimmed drop-off that opened up a clearer view of this side of the property, restoring its illusion of suspended weightlessness. Such positioning offers privacy of a rare kind, for it is impossible to see much of the inside of this place from the road, a vantage point that affords a view of nothing more than the ceilings if the lamps are all blazing. This advantage makes curtains and window shades unnecessary, as it would be the energetic intruder who would trudge up the hill to get a closer look, especially in the winter when the ice settles in. And at that, anyone under 5 feet tall would need a ladder to look in. As it stands, no one ever pokes around up here other than the occasional neighbor's child selling candy, the folks who read the electric meter, or an invited guest or two.
One's senses become more finely tuned from living in the woods, where even the slightest unfamiliar sound gives pause. In the dead of winter, when traffic is at its lowest point, the sound of any vehicle brings me to the window, if only to see which among my few year-round neighbors has dared to venture out that day. Of course, this dirt road is never a clear indicator of what the main road is like after a storm. What seems to be an impenetrable mass of snow here has usually already been removed by the time I have to go anywhere. Yet the sense of being snow-bound persists until I get to where the dirt ends and the tarmac takes over.
This all seems like a lifetime away at this point, but experience dictates otherwise, for in not that many weeks, the wind will shift once again, bringing colder temperatures with it. The days will shorten, and the sun will smile upon a different part of the earth for awhile, leaving us to close in upon ourselves for yet another year like so many spent flower buds. For now, I sit near my window gazing upon those oak branches, willing them to stay green for as long as possible before nature and the cycle of the seasons deem otherwise.