From My Window: Nature Study

Noelle McCarthy on the delights of a rural view.

From My Window: Nature Study

Noelle McCarthy on the delights of a rural view.

This is the window I look out of when I’m at my desk. You can see the edges of the gold velvet curtains. My husband chose them. I used to think they were a bit much, but now I love closing them in the evening, feeling I’m getting ready for The Masque of the Red Death. People always walk in and say, “Your study’s big!” I got lucky. This was the main family room, it even has a fire. My husband does his work in an unheated sleepout.

The wisteria gets a bit triffidy, we don’t cut it back enough. It blooms purple. I think the woman who lived here before us really loved the colour purple. The bed in front of the verandah is full of hellebores and irises. Even the roses are purple. They’re quite psychedelic when they’re out. There are one or two tiny nests in the wisteria, perfectly balanced on tendrils. The birds are taking over, to be honest. Finches and swifts. Dive-bombing, fighting, feeding. You couldn’t even have a conversation out there last summer, the chicks were so loud. We need to assert ourselves, but it feels a bit late now. 

When I’m working, I stop and look out the window a lot. Before we came here, I wasn’t ever conscious of wanting to keep my view the same. But I love all the different greens, the gradations of light and the seasonal change. It’s very soothing, having the same components to get used to. Especially when you’re writing. It’s good to look up, and see real, solid things. By late November, the tūī start getting all up in the kōwhai tree. You see them flashing, hear the liquidy calls. I’ll stand up and go to the window for tūī. Getting to watch them feels like winning a prize. 


Noelle McCarthy makes podcasts at Bird of Paradise and her memoir Grand is out now through Penguin Random House.

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