Opening Windows

Over the years I’ve taken hundreds – thousands, probably – of photographs of windows. I used to take days off from work in Boston and photograph all of the windows of the older buildings in Back Bay, the Financial District and at MIT. They give me a sense of place, I think, because once I have them I never know what to do with them, but they each have a story, real or imagined, and I suppose my intention was that sooner or later I would get around to writing it.

This window is in downtown Ayer, Massachusetts, and each morning as I drive through town, there are flocks of birds, barn swallows, I think, that swoop over Main Street again and again. Ayer is a town stuggling to reinvent itself after the nearby military base was closed, and sometimes I imagine that the birds are trying to breath new life into these too quiet streets.  It looks a little like a Western town, with false facades on some of the buildings squaring them off at the top, and wide covered porches over the walkways. Fort Devens is where the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 broke out, and I have read Groton’s Town Diaries about the World War I soldiers who brought the virus and carried it far and wide, the deaths and quarantines and the great infirmary on the hill where the local folks went to recover. But that’s another photograph.

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