Monday, September 11, 2006


Growing up, my sister and I had a fire escape, which was almost as good as a yard. On nice days we'd line it with pillows and blankets and bring snacks out to eat as we read books or watched the family of starlings who nested in a hole in the facade of the building across the alley. I was older and so I sat on the "dangerous" side, where the stairs from the level below met ours through a wide opening in the floor grating. There was not enough space to stretch out, exactly. And the grating would dig into your tailbone or back after a while. But this was fixed by a quick repositioning of body and pillow. Overall, it was very tranquil. There was a weed tree in the alley and I loved the rustling of its leaves, and how the light from the setting sun would flash and pulse through the fronds.

Other days we'd take saltines down to the street and find a colony of ants to feed. We loved watching them hoist the crumbs into their pincers and head purposefully back to their ant hill, descending into a crack in the sidewalk. I imagined they were made happy by this unexpected windfall.

I'm reminded of all of this after spending too much time this evening on Google Earth (I know I'm late to the bandwagon, but what a cool tool!) comparing satellite images of various places I've lived or visited. Here is a picture of my childhood neighborhood, compared with my current home (I marked our house with Google's nifty gadget thingie).

What a difference!

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