Sunday, 18 February 2007

Leave a light on for me

The other night at the Nordic Walking group, a woman said to me, "Lovely evening for a walk. Don't you think?"

It had snowed the week prior. The snow was still evident on the ground, although it had been well trodden - packed and icy. The air, though crisp, swirled with the scent of burning wood, which conjured up all sorts of warming imagery; like couples cuddling beside open fires, sipping mulled wine, or families playing board games, a raging fire in the background and hot chocolate carried in on a tray with a plate of cookies.

The night was clear enough to reveal a net of stars overhead, while night noises seemed to be more pronounced. Indeed, it seemed a perfect evening for a winter walk, so I agreed with much enthusiasm.

"I love looking into the houses", the woman announced, motioning to the house we were passing. The curtains were open wide; a soft yellow glow beckoning into a navy night.

At the time, I thought her comment a little off - voyeuristic and nosey...and why the hell don't these people close the drapes! So I kind of looked over at house to acknowledge the woman's statement and muttered "yeah", before attempting to change the subject. I noticed a chandelier. It was a well to-do neighbourhood, consisting of reasonably new houses that lined the streets like veneered teeth; perfect, proud, clean and well tended.

During the past week, I decided to go for an evening walk in my own neighbourhood. I was feeling a bit down, and just needed to get out of the house. There was no snow on the ground that night. In fact, it was quite pleasant to be out, and I only required a light jacket to ensure my comfort.

As I walked, I noticed many lights on in the houses I passed, and remembered what the woman had said.

The street over from my own is very nice and is considered affluent (why the disparity from one street to another around here, I will never know). The houses are all large with manicured gardens, that now loom in the evening shadows. Many of the houses appeared empty and seldom frequented (if you know what I mean), just as they do in the daytime; the windows closest the street were all dark, like soulless eyes.

One house I passed, had every light on throughout its lower level. I noticed a winding wooden staircase reaching into the obscurity of an unlit second floor. The walls of a freakishly large sitting room were painted eucalyptus green - not my favourite colour - too much in such a large space, and it looked a bit drab. A middle-aged man was working on his computer. His back was turned to the road, as was his computer monitor. He seemed to be the only one home.

A little further down the road I came to a gorgeous little house; one in which I had actually the fortune of entering. The owner once told me it had been a heritage home that was relocated into town a number of years ago. The owner and his wife had bought it, and renovated it themselves.
The house is painted in a lovely periwinkle blue with white trim. Shining polished wooden floors greet visitors, along with stain-glass windows and antique lace curtains. The space inside is intimate, warm and tastefully decorated. From the road it appears a tiny home, especailly when compared with its neighbouring gaints, but it is a deceiver. For once inside, you'll find that it actually contains three levels. A black steel staircase spirals from the corner of the dining room, opening up to a darling attic that harbours two of the sweetest little girls rooms one is ever likely to see. I just LOVE that house.

On the evening I went walking, the lace curtains were drawn, but through the curtains the family could be seen sharing a meal under soft golden hues. I imagined the happy banter of the family, sharing news about their day. It seemed such an idyllic scene.

Further down the road, I spotted a woman standing in a sitting room. The TV was on, but her back was facing it. She folded a white blanket in half, then lent down out of view. I imagined a child that had fallen asleep on the sofa, the mother leaning down to wrap her child in the blanket before carrying her slumbering bundle up to bed.

The scene drew me back to my own children. I had been desperate for a break, but it was supper time, and I would be absent from our table that evening. If I did not return soon, I would also miss tucking them in and receiving the last bear hug for the day. Bedtime is probably my favourite time of day with them. a time when they tell me all their thoughts and secrets, in an attempt to avoid the inevitable separation, and falling asleep. I knew it was time for me to head home.


Heather said...

This piece starts out as a blog, but ends up feeling much more like a narrative. I always get lost in your writing.

Kathleen said...

Really enjoyed sharing the walk with you.

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

I've done similar things when walking at taht time of day. I'v etried to enjoy my me time but find myself being drawn home too.

Great post

Tracey said...

I love "people watching".. and I do confess to being interested in people in their own homes like that. You remind me that I haven't gone walking in the dusk for such a long time now... It's kind of sad that walking alone when it's dark makes you a bit nervous these days.. even in the little beachside village that I live in.

East of Oregon said...

I enjoyes reading this!

Kimberly said...

So happy you commented on my blog so I could discover yours...I'm enchanted. Your writing is beautiful...eloquent and soulful.

Is it stalker-ish to ask where in the frozen north you are? I'm a South Cariboo-er myself.

jeanie said...

Oh what a beautiful walk with words there, Strauss. I really enjoyed!