Up until “the crash” I used to work in an office in the centre of Waterford. I loved the sense of community around the city centre and throughout the boom years there was a bit of a buzz developing.
At lunchtime every day the local offices would empty out into the streets. All the women in our office would take a hike across town and a twirl around the shops. News would travel back about bargains found or new cafes opening up.
Often times we would bring back lunch or would even manage to eat out now and then. You got to know the faces and enjoy the friendliness of local shopkeepers and sales people through little chats and smiles. Waterford has to be one of the warmest places in the world to shop! The lads in the Granary mostly from Eastern European countries made me think of our own kids working in similar situations in Australia and Berlin. This became a home from home, a workplace cafeteria for many of us at that end of town.
After the crash, and having taken a good thrashing, our small non profit organisation had to close our office and begin a whole new chapter as a “virtual organisation”. In other words all of us working from our own homes. The cost of rent in Waterford City meant that more and more buildings were abandoned and for a while things were deathly quiet.
Meanwhile myself and my colleagues had to adjust to home working. At first it seemed like a welcome relief from traffic jams, early morning commuting, parking costs. You save a lot of time when you only have to go from the leaba to the desk, via breakfast in your own kitchen.
I stuck my computer and all those ugly files in the back of the spare bedroom trying to take up as little space as possible. Then I moved my desk in front of a window and that was when I really re-discovered a whole other world going on in the meadows and trees around the house.
I used to see pheasants fly in to roost every evening that winter. One day a hen pheasant hit the window and died in front of me. Even while I was planning to pluck and eat her later a bunch of country rats moved in and by morning there was literally nothing left but a pile of feathers.
I watched birds of prey circling the land and swooping down on small animals. I discovered that we have a number of kinds, kestrels and even buzzards with huge wing spans. Sometimes I would see their distinctive profiles outlined against the sky when they perched on a branch near my window.
Some months into my stint as a home worker I decided to move the whole operation to a downstairs window beside the kitchen. It felt lonely to be up there in the bedroom and anyway an adult child returned home to live for a while, as they do, and I had to vacate the space.
This brought me closer to life on the ground and when I began to feed the smaller birds I got the chance to really study them too. I now know that robins are territorial and plucky little guys, finches are the most laid back of all and love their grub, blackbirds talk to each other a lot and have wonderful dances along their boundaries with other blackbird lads. One of my favourites is the elusive hen blackbird. She is solid, brown and very kindly looking. So I like to think.
When I wasn’t being distracted by birds or their nests, I was on the look out for rabbits and hares. On my first night living down our lane, I had seen a hare and two leverets in the moonlight. It was the first time I had ever seen them up close. Since then I have often come down to breakfast and found them meditating just in front of the kitchen window. They blow me away with their comical expressions and their stillness.
Home working requires a lot of discipline and time management. The kitchen has to be avoided or you would never stop making cups of tea and searching for biscuits! The internet is a life line and without phones and social media you might never talk to anyone from one end of the day to the next. When you work from home the rest of the family have to put up with your stuff and in my case that’s even worse as I double job as a photographer/ blogger.
But the biggest, happiest surprise of all about working from home turned out to be re-discovering what was going on just outside my own window.