I walk to work every day, zig-zagging, cross-stepping as-the-crow-flies, in a beeline from my place in Boyle Street, on through downtown Edmonton. This year some of the route has changed as my own life has changed. Work has moved and my role with it; I have to walk a little farther than I used to. But there are stillpoints along the way. Vistas, soundscapes, and living creatures. Some are predictable, some surprise and then disappear. Those last I call angels. Stillpoints, all, because they stop me in my tracks, because they bring me out of my head and into the present moment.
One of my favourites is a window at the corner of 105A Avenue and 93 Street, a window that beckons in early morning, spring, summer, fall or winter. A window whose season never ends flanked by a red steel door and a Manitoba Maple probably as old as the neighbourhood, thick at the trunk and gnarled; the leaves this time of year moving slowly from green to gold. The beckoning window looks east and is filled with plants: a spider plants, a prayer plant, plants I don’t even know the names of. Behind the window sits a filing cabinet, a book shelf, and a desk topped with piles of paper. In the next cavernous room, behind other windows and under high ceilings, men stand at work benches, hunched over machines. The green window follows me down the block, caught in my mind in a maze of brick and steel and grease.
Many times in the six years I’ve walked the route, I’ve wondered who tends the plants. I’ve speculated. A woman obviously. I’m not sure why I would be so confident of that. A woman with her own office. A woman among a sea of men. The bookkeeper? Human Resources? The site nurse? A manager? I had never laid eyes on her. Until this week.
Friday morning she was there, framed, red-haired, in the window, smiling, watering her green plants as outside the snow fell lightly to the ground. Thank you, I wanted to say, in a world so out of balance with time and with the material, a world filled with violence masquerading as truth, for continuing to pay attention to some of the simplest, the most real, processes of being.