Thursday, July 13, 2006

Life from the Train

The train I take every day flows through a wide range of landscapes. From forest to wide open fields, some filled with perfect cows. Then into suburbia, allotments, industrial estates, high streets, every imaginable snippet of modern living.

In many of the views people live. There are back gardens of every type. Some are tips, filled with the most amazing mounds of rubbish. Some are just plain flats of grass (often brown this summer). Others are beautifully maintained gardens, though remarkably similar all the same. The garden gardens all seem to follow the same pattern. A centre square of grass, borders with bright flowers and carefully curbed shrubs. There is always a shed at the back, and usually a tiled or wood patio just outside the back of the house.

You can always tell if it’s a family home, there will be a bike or two, and like as not a small footie net. The grass in these gardens is always lovingly worn and brown. Too many feet running around.

The allotments fascinate me. Unlike back gardens these are quite varied. In one, it is a small flower nursery. Not laid out to please the eye, the flowers are clearly being raised for themselves, and like as not cut and taken home. Bar that one exception the others are all veg. But not alike, not a one. There are different plants in different patterns. All neat and tidy and not a weed to be seen other than in the pathways between. Those are obviously communal, and owned by no one.

The houses themselves invariably catch my eye. Not because they are unique. There may be variations, but the British terrace home follows a time worn pattern. No, it’s the ability to think about the lives within. I never see people, either through the windows or in the gardens. The houses could be empty for all I know. I suspect if I lived opposite a train line I would remain invisible as well. Still, it’s a thought process of imagining the lives. Pitchers and glasses on a table hinting at a party the night before. Glimpses into conservatories that prove a love of plants or a love of sun. Washing hung up by the environmentally sound, but careless as they’ve been left out overnight.

It’s a panoply of sights and thoughts that helps make the mornings bearabl


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