Look out your window

Sunday. Welcome, once again, to the chilly basement office in the Morrills' split-level house. Jeff is on the second level, eating breakfast in the kitchen (if the clink of silverware is to be believed). We are, it seems, the only people awake in the house.

This room has a small window, set high in this room but low to the ground. In my view of the outside world I can see the camellia bush, still glowing pink with the remnants of this year's blooming. Even now, as the camellia blooms prepare to drop off, the bees continue to work the blooms for their last drops of nectar.

I see now why Sean suggested we put some camellias in our flowerbeds. He and I seem to share opinions about flowers—if you are going to have flowers, best that they have a wonderful, flowery reek to them. I have not asked him, but I sense a kinship in him—that he, too, probably doesn't find hothouse, scentless roses to be nearly as beautiful as their old-style counterparts.

The Morrills have a very mature landscape. No new plants, and the ones they have seem to be quite nicely grown and aged. It lends a sense of settlement to the house that is at once welcoming and calming. It is difficult not to compare it to my own house.

What troubles me most about the exterior of my house in its present state is its sterility. Because there are few plants and no trees, there are few bees and insects and no birds. Having grown up in a thoroughly different environment, I find the lack of life to be startling and alienating.

In my childhood years, my parents' house was all but obscured by the sheer number of trees. There were two large, stately oaks down the hill and close to the road; an enormous Christmas-tree-shaped conifer (whose name escapes me this morning) by the pool; the rest were pines. We did, after all, live on the edge of a scion of a pine forest, in the midst of a county virtually owned by International Paper. There were pines to be had in abundance; that is, until my parents cut them down when I was thirteen.

(I believe it was the summer of my thirteenth year that a freak bolt of lightning hit the gumball tree in my grandmother's front yard. Through a set of circumstances that only seems remarkable if you weren't there at the time, the lightning travelled through the trunk of the tree, down to a root that had grown around the buried telephone line. From there it followed the telephone line through the house and to the attic, where it reached a weak juncture and set off sparks that eventually led to the burning of my grandmother's house.

With me in it, I might add. Not to mention several of my cousins and extended cousins who were there for a family reunion of sorts. While mostly irrelevant to the subject at hand, it does wonders to explain my distaste and loathing of fire that continues to this day. Once bitten, twice shy.)

After the freak accident of the fire, my parents decided that having so many trees so close to the house was an obvious liability. Thus, they came down—and with them went away much of the wildlife I was accustomed to seeing from the windows of our house.

It is hard not to look out the windows of my own house and see emptiness. It is a typical young suburban yard, with grass and driveway and other houses visible. But I find myself mentally adding in an oak or two, a few bird's-nests tucked carefully away. Flowering bushes and plants with bees industriously circling them.

It will come. I'm laying the groundwork today. In a few hours, when everyone awakes, we're off to one of the Atlanta plant nurseries. Just to see. Something, after all, might have to come home with me.