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April 03, 2012 7:42 am

The Amend Corner: Backyard view

Written by Don Amend

I’m not much of a movie watcher anymore, but a couple of days ago, I got the urge to watch one.

Not just any movie, though. I wanted to take an oldies trip and watch an old Alfred Hitchcock thriller, “Rear Window,” and thanks to iTunes, this film was readily available via my trusty desktop computer.

Why this movie? Well, because, in my current circumstances, I have something in common with the hero of the story, Jimmy Stewart, a famous magazine photographer laid up due to a broken leg, who is entertaining himself by watching what’s going on outside the window of his apartment. He would much rather go back to his exciting, globe-trotting job as a photographer, but he’s stuck in his wheel chair.

Well, aside from the fact that I’m not exactly famous and I don’t do much trotting around the world to take my pictures, I can relate pretty well to what he is going through.

That’s about where the parallels end, though. Jimmy gets to look out into a courtyard surrounded by other apartment buildings occupied by a variety of people, none of whom, it seems, take the trouble to pull the curtains. I, on the other hand, get to look out at my backyard. Aside from occasional glimpses of neighbors in their own back yards and the garbage truck doing its thing in the alley, mostly what I get to look at are the finches fighting over seats at the bird feeder, squirrels tight-roping the fiber optic line on their way to dining experiences in our spruce tree and the occasional neighborhood cat looking for opportunities.

Unlike me, Jimmy has two people taking care of him, nurse Thelma Ritter and his high-class girlfriend, Grace Kelly, who is nagging him to marry her. I have only one, my wife, who unlike Thelma, is working for free, and unlike Grace, shows up in regular clothes instead of designer gowns.

Moreover, in my case, the marriage thing was accomplished many years ago, and, as I remember, was more a case of my begging her to marry me than her nagging me about it.

Then there’s the medical care Jimmy is receiving, which is way different than mine has been. When the movie starts, Jimmy’s been lolling around with a full-length cast on his leg for six weeks, that being the way they handled broken bones back in 1954. I can testify to that because I broke my arm back in that time period and my treatment consisted of wearing a cast from early October until the day after Thanksgiving. Today, Jimmy would long ago have been put in a walking cast and would likely be forced to do cartwheels and ride bicycles three times a week at physical therapy, like I’ve been doing. Well, OK, it’s not that bad, but Jimmy certainly wouldn’t be just sitting around peeking through his telephoto lens if the movie were made today.

It’s not that he didn’t make good use of the time, though. He did manage to deduce that one of his neighbors, Raymond Burr, had done away with his wife, cut her up and scattered parts of her body all over New York City. He couldn’t convince his police detective friend, but he was able to enlist the help of Grace and Thelma to bring Raymond to justice.

He did, however pay a price, because Raymond was able to figure out who the peeping Tom was that identified him, and, just before help arrived, got into Jimmy’s apartment and threw him off the balcony, breaking his other leg and dooming him to another six or seven weeks of sitting around his apartment.

Given that, I’ll settle for the much more mundane happenings involving birdseed and garbage trucks that I get to watch from my rear window. I don’t really need that much excitement, and I definitely don’t want to be tossed off a balcony.

Still, a little excitement would be nice, and I suppose it could happen. After all, Powell has been visited by a mountain lion, a black bear and a moose in recent years, and it could happen again. Or maybe the hawk that nailed his breakfast in the middle of our yard a few years ago would make a return visit and provide a photo op. 

I’ll keep watching, and if anything happens, I’ll try to get a good picture, if I can do it without falling off of anything.

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