There are small children setting off bottle rockets in the alleyway. They live in the house behind mine, across the alley. They have a cat. Or, at least, they take care of a stray cat. The cat is orange, a shorthair. With a snubbed nose. Not the most handsome feline, but certainly a friendly one. Crookshanks, I’d call him. He/she/it purrs and rubs and meows and rolls in the dust, the dirt, chases birds, and lies in the grass for hours and hours and I watch it from my second story window, the one that overlooks the alleyway. The alleyway our resident transient visits.

I heard him for the first time a few weeks ago. It was dark, night, 11:30 perhaps. Late. And I could hear the cart. I heard the grocery cart rattling up the uneven, rocky pavement. I judged distance, sound, darkness. He was at the dumpster a short ways down. After a few moments, the cart rambled back down the alleyway, beneath my window. I knew he would check our trash can, the trash can of the neighbor, the trash can of the kids’ house, the trash cans that the cats hide by and slink around. I saw the transient again yesterday. He’s middle-aged, white. Has shaggy hair, but is not as rough and tumble as you might expect. He was hauling a small load, had a walking stick and a dozen soda cans. Coca-Cola. They jostled each other, tinged and pinged against each other, against the cart. Red. They were red. The transient peered into each trash can for just a moment, then moved on. Not hurting anything. Not bothering anyone. Just trying to make it in this sad, cruel world. A world where there are red berries on the tree just outside my west window. A world where I wake in the glow of sunshine, the light illuminating the glass of water I left on the sill. A world where the breeze filters in and tickles my skin. Where the quiet neighborhood nods hello, waves goodbye, takes care of each other, and is safe enough for kids to run barefoot, with their four-legged friends, setting off last month’s joys.

Things seem perfect, sometimes. When the ambient noise are the laughs of children and the distant Interstate traffic. A hum, a white noise hum of movement, of life. The traffic keeps moving. Time keeps moving. The berries? The tree? Everything just outside my west-facing window? It will all turn. Turn from green to yellow to orange to red to brown and fall, fall down, down to my patio and to the ground, the cold ground and turn and crumble and be buried beneath snow and shadows. But, for now, it is perfect. The light, the colors. All of it, just barely waving, whispers of wind in the leaves. I could reach out and touch it, if I wanted. Taste it, too, if I wished.

A life is much better lived when no one is watching. The hours pass more slowly. There is gratitude for the smallest things—for clean dishes, for a line of glass bottles along the window sills, for stacks of unread books, for the creases of your white comforter. It will not always be like this: clean, simple, calm. Things change. They always change.

You can’t stop traffic. You can’t stop time. Everything ages, including the children who play in the sprinklers, who set off bottle rockets, who ride their bikes and giggle and laugh and enjoy each and every moment of summer. The depths of it, the beginnings of it, the end of it.

And I watch it all from my window. Like “Facing Windows.” Like “Rear Window.” I watch. Watch the children, the neighbors, the breeze, the transient, the cars, the sunrises, the orange cat whose simple ways surpass us all.


  1. This is beautiful. I love the collection of glass you have lined up on the window. Indianapolis seems like a wonderful place to be.

  2. I adore the picture of the cat :)

  3. Beautiful words, and what an adorable cat!

    xo Becky

  4. All these photos make me so happy but that first one especially :)

  5. Lovely photos! Especially the glass bottles on the windowsill. <3
    That's one thing I miss about living in an apartment...watching the busy world outside, windows open, listening to the kids play outside, street noise, sirens, whatever. We still live on a busy street and there's still noise and sidewalk traffic right out front, but it's not quite the same.

  6. I love all of your photos. I also love your description of the transient with the garbage cans. Too often you see it and never really 'see' it but you definitely put it in nice words.


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