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Countries all around the world are focused on dealing with the catastrophic medical emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most countries are on some form of lockdown, which is very alien to the way we have always lived our lives. In the UK, we are instructed to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to save lives and protect the NHS. This has required us all to live our lives differently and think about what really matters. This surreal slowdown of life as we know it, in response to dealing with the pandemic, including ‘working from home,’ ‘home schooling,’ ‘isolating,’ ‘shielding’, has plunged our lives into limbo, but at the same time has provided us with the time and opportunity to take a few moments to really appreciate the world around us.

Instead of all the hustle and bustle and travelling miles in cars, on trains and aeroplanes, we now have time to stop for a moment, to take in the beauty of what surrounds us.

Travel might have stopped for the time being, but by opening up our windows and looking through them, we can still experience just how wonderful our world is. Try not to dismiss the view from your window and think of it as just the view you see every day. Look at it from a fresh perspective, with awe and wonder of both the natural and man-made world and try to appreciate the details of this wonderment.

With less noise from traffic and fewer people pounding the pavements, the usual noise and drone of modern life has vanished. Look and listen! Are the birds chirping more loudly and passionately this year? Or is the reduction in noise pollution now allowing us to hear sounds that are usually muffled by the sound of traffic and everyday life. Listen to the beauty of the dawn chorus, the twittering and tweeting of wild birds as they defend their breeding territories and sing to attract a mate. Rediscover the bright, vibrant colours of spring flowers, feel the sun’s rays and the drops of rainfall, smell the delicate fragrance from the blossoming trees, as they waft in the wind. Let the view from your window speak to you.

Looking out from my window, I am reminded of a beautiful, textless picture book, which I used when I was a primary school teacher and Headteacher; Window by Jeannie Baker (ISBN 0 09 918 2114, published Red Fox, 1991).

The book Window gives children and adults an understanding of how growth has affected the world in which we live. How year by year, little by little, the small changes in the view from ‘the window,’ changed the landscape, reflecting the impact of the relentless expansion of urban environments into the surrounding countryside. If you don’t have access to the book, watch Window: Jeannie Baker https://youtu.be/4JLVneJa1Is or Window: A digital media production https://youtu.be/j4MMzPOV8yI.

Belonging, another textless picture book about the view from a window, also by Jeannie Baker is Window in reverse, with the land being reclaimed from built-up urban, concrete environment. This book shows how, year by year, the natural world can return to urban landscapes. Again, if you don’t have access to the book, you can watch one of these videos about it: https://youtu.be/uFd12NAoSoQ or https://youtu.be/cteuiljxfYc.

In this time of lockdown, when we are unable to visit or hug family or friends, let us open up our worlds and share the views and sounds from our windows with our families, children, parents, grandparents and friends. Let us share photographs of our wonderful world at different times of the day, for example, of a vibrant sunrise or a beautiful sunset or the weather each day. Let us use art software programmes to digitally create an image of the view from our window or simply paint the view, in watercolours or oils, draw in pencil or crayons or make collages. We can use technology to show our friends and families how the view from our window changes throughout the day. We can share photographs that show the view from different windows in our homes, looking in different directions.

If you wish for a bigger audience than your family and friends, there is a public page on Facebook called ‘View from my Window,’ where people from all round the world are sharing photographs. What a wonderful opportunity to see the view from windows of homes in different countries.

The views from our windows can be shared in many ways, by people of all ages, linking the generations of families together.

From our windows, we can also listen to and record the sounds of day and night, for example, the dawn chorus or the crickets out and about at night. We can share these with family and friends. We can set the view from our windows to music, create a song or a piece of poetry to share.

During these troubled times, we must remember, every day, to take a moment to look though our windows, to appreciate the view and take in the beauty of the world around us. It takes only a few minutes to observe and enjoy simple things such as trees swaying in the breeze, grass blowing in the wind, clouds coming and going, changing shape and drifting by, sunshine and rain, birds singing, fragrant blossom, flowers, butterflies and insects, sunrises and sunsets. Gaze with awe and wonder at the view from your window. And at night, graze up at the stars. Are they really shining more brightly or is there just less pollution in the air?

Reference List:

Baker, J. (2007). Belonging (ISBN 1 40 630 5480) London, United Kingdom: Walker Books Ltd.

Baker, J. (1991). Window (ISBN 0 09 918 2114) London, United Kingdom: Red Fox

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