Window on the World

by Wendy Burwell


When I sit in my living room I easily see and hear so much of what goes on in my richly textured urban neighborhood thru my window and sometimes I see more than I’d like.  In direct sightline from my chair are 2 young women and their dogs.  They have lived in the bottom half of the white trimmed sea-green duplex across the street for several years now.

They may or may not be a couple, I don’t know that it matters. I do know that one of them has dyed her hair several very interesting shades of purplish red indicating that at some level she may be comfortable with standing out in a crowd.  And she is the one that has at times pulled my attention out of my living room.

When I first noticed them, they had one dog who they never took for a walk but instead these young women would open their front door, clip the Labrador pup to the 10 foot lead attached to the front porch and go back inside.  This offers only the driveway for relief and the rambunctious pup was often left out there no matter the time or weather.  It’s hard to know how they could miss its late-night continuous loud whining and yipping demands to get back in when the neighbors were all too painfully aware.

At some point, torturing one was not enough – so now they have two. The second one, a smaller breed, was also very young when it was first brought into their strange menagerie. Apparently they also have a very large, very loud parrot in their apartment- which can’t be seen, but I have heard about from the neighbors who live above them.

Now the two canines take turns with this dance that includes the front porch and the driveway complete with the whining and yipping of course. And although there are now two distinct pitches, neither voice sings a soothing tune.

And if all this weren’t entertaining enough, the woman with the unique hair colors likes to come to their all-glass storm door leading to the very visible front porch in nothing more than her birthday suit.  There is no mistaking the human form in all its glory so when friends ask me if I am sure this is what I’m seeing, I can confirm without hesitation that yes indeed she does not seem to be bothered by stepping onto the porch without a stitch of clothing on.

Having seen this multiple times, usually late in the morning when I imagine the dogs can wait no longer to get to the driveway, has not lessened its impact.  And as comfortable as I am with nudity, it is always a bit shocking every time I see her nakedness in the context of our city environment.  Understand that I’m not watching for her to do this – its just what I see out my window. And its hard to miss.

The most challenging time for me was when the little one was first brought out to the porch by the naked lady and did not cooperate with – or understand – the dance. The young woman had to concede that even she could not step off the porch in her all-together.  So back into the house they went. She quickly reemerged carrying the pup and wearing nothing but a tee shirt.  Her problem had yet to be solved however. She tried once or twice, but could not bend over to put the dog down in the driveway without exposing her still uncovered bottom to any and all. What she did next was hard to watch: she dropped the puppy from waist level.

And at that point I had to go into another part of my house, something I wished I had done earlier, just to unplug from this drama that was not mine.



Wendy Burwell has lived in the South Wedge neighborhood since moving to Rochester in 1987. She has witnessed its many changes and, knowing that living in diversity is where she wants to be, is sometimes challenged by what she sees.