Across the street from our house an elderly woman spends much of the day in the park, sitting on a bench or at a picnic table, watching. She doesn't typically talk to people, as far as I can tell; she doesn't say hello when you greet her, but she simply sits quietly, gazing out at the park, where, usually, very little is happening.
Today I sat in the pickup listening to the end of a story on the radio, and I watched her sitting there, and she appeared to notice me and perhaps wondered what I was doing. She got up, walked away, and came back several times, only to settle in again at the same bench. She keeps her head up, she dresses neatly with her white hair tidy, and she carries a small purse.
When the kids start gathering at the pool, or when there's a group meeting at the shelter, or when the adolescents begin to gather at the skateboard park, she usually disappears, but when it's quiet, she's there.
What she did before she started watching the park I don't know, but if they gave awards for diligence at park observation, she would be voted by those who know--squirrels, robins, grackles, and other birds--as the best in the city.
I suspect she has learned the pleasure of observing--watching the way the limbs of the trees bend and sway in the wind, how the grackle will chase the robin through aerobatic maneuvers, how the traffic changes endlessly. Maybe she never had a chance to watch this way before.