• Theresa Verboort

My Kitchen Window



Standing at my kitchen sink, I watch out my window. He slowly moves across the yard, carrying his spray canister. I remember waiting for him in the car, long ago, as he walked toward me with long, confident strides, almost a swagger. He was lean and lithe, my young husband. He smiled when he saw me. But now the Parkinson’s is robbing him slowly of his carefree movement. His good right arm tremors most of the time, sometimes violently, and his facial muscles have stiffened. My heart feels squeezed as I observe him. How much longer do we have to be “normal?” He can’t see the concern in my eyes, as I watch him from my observation post.

It seems that I have spent a large portion of my life, looking through a kitchen window at the world outside. When we lived in the country, I looked out on a beautiful hazelnut orchard. In the spring the trees bloomed with long, bright green tassels, which eventually disappeared as the leaves popped out. In the winter we had a lovely snowfall, and they stood quietly in fluffy white dress with the glittering snow covering the bare ground. It was nature’s hushed cathedral. Sometimes I would see pheasants passing through, or, in the spring, sweet little mother quails, leading their downy brown and yellow chicks through the grass. Occasionally a deer or two would glide through, like brown ghosts.

When we moved into town my window looked out upon the side yard and the street. I could observe passers-by. There was one old man who began taking daily walks by the house, shortly after he retired. He walked with long strides, head up, an expression of relaxed contentment on his face. He was faithful to this routine for about five years. Gradually, his stride became less brisk, his expression more contemplative. Then one day, I noticed that he almost shuffled by, slowly, his head bowed, his mouth turned down at the corners. I wondered if his wife had died, or if he’d had a stroke. He came by less often, then, one day, I realized that I hadn’t seen him in weeks. He was gone from my life, and I wondered what happened. I never did know, but suspect that he died.

Now, in this house, I look out into our lovely, green back yard. I love watching the seasons come and go, the bees as they work over our flowers, the birds and the squirrels. Sometimes I get a surprise, like the time I saw two scrub jays teasing one of the neighbor’s cats. The cat had slyly climbed up the corner post of the fence, and was trying to sneak up on a jay that sat about six feet away. The cat crept along the top railing, hopefully, and got about three feet from the jay, at which point it flew off. The cat stopped, frustrated, and, turning his head, noticed that another jay had flown down and landed on the other side of the corner post, about five or six feet out. The cat turned and began creeping along the rail again, towards the second jay. He rounded the corner and was working his way up to the bird, when, it too flew off. As he did so, the first jay came back and perched in his original spot. Determined, the cat turned and headed back toward the bird. Once again, the same scenario ensued. Those birds had that cat going back and forth three or four times before they grew tired of the game and flew off, leaving a very frustrated cat. It was great fun for me.

Once or twice I observed possums and raccoons in the yard. The fence was no obstacle for them. Possums make my skin crawl. They look too much like big rats, with their pointy noses and skinny, bare tails. But mainly, I watch the antics of the squirrels. They are so entertaining, as they careen up and down the trees, chasing each other around and around, flinging themselves from limb to limb. It’s not so amusing when they dig holes in my flowerpots and beds to bury their treasures, or just dig circles in the grass. . I can’t figure what they’re digging for sometimes.

And then, there’s the joy of seeing the hummingbirds, hovering over the birdfeeder. The Ruby throats sparkle in the sun, and it’s always a thrill to watch them.

But today my attention is fixed upon my husband as he slowly moves to the garden shed. I know he has tired quickly and will be in soon for a rest. He has always loved working in our yard. But it becomes increasingly difficult, and eventually we will have to move, I’m sure. I’ll enjoy my view as long as I can. I wonder what scene my future window will reveal.

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