The view from my office window . . . and beyond

By Milli Thornton

Today I have a special post for you. This is about two familiar yet ever-changing views that feed my writing a nourishing diet of nature, color and the antics of local critters. My inspiration for this post came like a double ice-cream cone of yummy, from two other bloggers on the same day.

Over at A Human Thing, where j of j’s Journey (plus a few other FoW exploits) writes of love as a powerful weapon to effect change, I was reading her post called Beyond our very human work. I absolutely fell in love with the photo of the ocean she had posted, along with the words “place of solace” from a comment left by one of her readers.

(The reader being Tall Pajama Man aka @kidstuph. Not the first time Kenneth has written something that moved me to a deeper place.)

A bit later I went to Patrick Ross’ fine blog, The Artist’s Road, eager to read a guest post from Melissa Crytzer Fry entitled Cultivating Creativity in the Sonoran Desert. On her blog What I Saw, Melissa marries creativity and writing with her visual take on the desert where she lives.

Ever tried to sum up the magnificent scope of inspiration you’ve received from two sources in two short paragraphs? Then you know how many words I’ve left out. I decided instead that my tribute to these grouse sheilas (any Aussies reading today?) and what they gave me would simply have to be expressed through the lens of my camera. And that it simply must be about

my two most visited places of solace


What I See when I venture out of my house to the one place truly worth going here in my own neighborhood.

Below is the view from the window of my office. The one that’s always there for me. The one that changes moods as frequently as I do. The one that keeps me entertained with the flutter of wings and bird song from the feeder full of sunflower seeds. (My birder friend @wordsxo would agree that topic calls for an entire post unto itself!) The picture frame for the frolicking animals who often distract me from my work.

Whenever I’m distressed I stare out my window in a form of passive therapy that never fails to contain some magical solace, even if I’m too distracted to notice it working on me.

The standard view from my office window

View from my office window

View from my office window

Clockwise: 1. Spring-time 2. During a thunderstorm 3. Sunset 4. Winter

Critters in my backyard

Clockwise: 1. Me petting one of the five bunnies born in our yard
2. The chipmunk 3. The hawk 4. The woodpecker

I wish I had enough space to tell you some of the laughable, adorable, sometimes terrifying animal tales I see from my window. Like the time the chipmunk (who uses the brick ledge that passes under my window to race along the side of the house) slowed down from his usual blur, stood up on his hind legs and peered in through the fly screen to see what I was doing.

Or about how my heart leaps with joy every time I see the woodpecker—and how funny he is the way he attacks the seed in the bird feeder like he’s drilling for insects. Or the time the hawk killed a cardinal (cardinals are one of my top favorite birds, so it really hurt to watch this). Or about the way I got to hold one of the five precious bunnies born in our yard in early May.

But it’s time to move on and tell you about the other place of high adventure that’s only a block from my house: Mill Creek Park. We actually chose the house we’re renting for our Ohio interlude (my roots go no more than surface deep here in Ohio) based on a desire to be within walking and bike-riding distance of the park. We lucked out and found an almost-too-tiny-for-us house well within range of two of the access points, which means I can vary my daily route.

The first group of photos below were taken right after a thunderstorm, when the park was a mess of fallen leaves and branches but otherwise looked washed clean. After that you’ll see a little of what I see in the park on a sunny day, including one of the many wild critters (deer, owl, robin, raccoon, etc.) that I’m so lucky to encounter on a regular basis. I’ll let my captions tell the story.

Mill Creek Park

My bike route in Mill Creek Park

Mill Creek Park

Left: A magic wand I found in the park
Right: Walkers in the balmy mist after a thunderstorm

Mill Creek Park

Left: Bridge over Mill Creek | Right: The creek swollen with rain

Bridge in Mill Creek Park

The creek a few days later, now with its rocky banks exposed

My secret path beside Mill Creek

My secret path beside Mill Creek

Mill Creek Park

Left: Mossy rocks dreaming ancient Ohio history | Right: Black squirrel

I’m feeling especially excited to share these park photos with Melissa Crytzer Fry, who “grew up in NW Pennsylvania among cow pastures and corn fields, then moved to rural Ohio, then back to PA” and is totally familiar with Mill Creek Park. These days Melissa lives in the Arizona desert—whereas I used to live in the mountain desert town of New Mexico called Taos. We’ve both been making one another nostalgic lately with our respective “what I saw” moments.

On Melissa’s The Artist’s Road guest post, writer/blogger Annie Neugebauer commented to Melissa:

The desert seems to call to you the way beaches or the mountains in Colorado call to me. I wonder if every person has creativity hidden in some specific part of the natural world? It seems like it’d be worth a lifetime to look for it.

Ohio is not where my heart truly lives. When it comes to my creative soul, my ultimate place is the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia—where I hope to someday live again.

Meanwhile, as long as I’m Here Right Now, I’m lucky I’ve got two such green and glorious places of solace to feast the eyes of my soul upon.

Where do you feast your creative soul on a regular basis?



A Human Thing by j Clement Wall

The Artist’s Road by Patrick Ross

What I Saw by Melissa Crytzer Fry

Milli Thornton, Fear of Writing Blog | Fear of Writing Online Course

Milli Thornton


Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of Unleash Your Writing! and the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli also blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers at Writer’s Muse.

17 Responses to The view from my office window . . . and beyond
  1. j
    June 1, 2012 | 1:29 AM

    WOW! Your photos are absolutely beautiful. I love that you captured the view outside your window in every season. It’s almost like a whole new place, isn’t it? I normally don’t like when people claim the Bay Area doesn’t have seasons but when I see your view, I know what they mean. My view does not change so drastically.

    And the park. It’s gorgeous. And such great photography, woman of many talents! Love, love, love the bridge picture.

    I agree completely with Annie. Finding where in the natural world my most creative instincts get unleashed is absolutely a worthy lifelong search!

  2. Joanne Martin
    June 1, 2012 | 9:15 AM

    I am a citizen of two countries. I was born and raised in Canada, but migrated to Australia with my husband in 1995, and became a naturalized Australian citizen. I love both of my beautiful homes. But my family, and my roots are in Canada. I go back and forth. I can certainly relate to both your joy in your surroundings, and your sense of displacement. Thanks for your beautiful blog. I have shared it on the Therapeutic Writing Network Facebook page, and on Twitter.

  3. Carole
    Twitter: cjtreggett
    June 1, 2012 | 10:47 AM

    LOVE this post, Milli. I can really relate to this wonderfully-written part:

    “Whenever I’m distressed I stare out my window in a form of passive therapy that never fails to contain some magical solace.”

    I live in a quiet, rural area and our backyard backs onto several acres of woods. In fact, we just strap on our snowshoes at the back door and walk out there in the winter, probably the only humans who go traipsing in this particular neck of the woods 🙂

    The pictures are fantastic too! Love that magic wand you found 🙂 The secret path along Mill Creek looks like the perfect sanctuary to let your imagination stretch its legs and roam freely hand-in-hand with you in the natural world.

    I was inspired by Melissa’s post too and was preparing a photo essay along the same lines as yours for my next blog post lol. Gotta love that synchronicity between ‘noticing’ creatives 🙂

  4. Charlotte Rains Dixon
    Twitter: wordstrumpet
    June 1, 2012 | 10:54 AM

    Your photos are amazing and I love seeing the view from your writer’s space. I’m on the second floor, in my daughter’s old bedroom. She urged me to move up here, saying that it’s like being in a tree house. And she’s right! I look out over a lush, green Oregon yard and a kiwi that is threatening to overtake all of it. (My cat likes the view, too, he’s currently sitting in the window surveying his domain.)

  5. Annie Neugebauer
    Twitter: AnnieNeugebauer
    June 1, 2012 | 11:09 AM

    My goodness, I love this post, Milli! Both of your special places are really beautiful. I too have a view out my office window that does much the same for me as yours does for you — although my back yard isn’t quite as gorgeous as yours. =) When I need a change, I go for a walk in a nice little park in our neighborhood. It’s more green grass and sidewalks and less shady trees and pathways, but it sometimes holds a little magic. Thanks for this post. I really loved getting to see where you go!

  6. Dana Pittman
    Twitter: danapittman
    June 1, 2012 | 11:18 AM

    Beautiful. I’d love to run your bike route. The view from my desk it not very pretty. However, this makes me want to plan a couple of writing sessions outside. It does wonders for my running. I wonder how it could positively affect my writing.

  7. Melissa Crytzer Fry
    June 1, 2012 | 2:18 PM

    Milli -you have OUTDONE yourself. I was so inspired and moved. I think what tickles me most is that I could FEEL the excitement you felt as you took the camera out and captured those breathtaking moments at Mill Creek after the rain. Isn’t the camera also such an amazing inspirational tool?

    And the green …. Oh I can’t say enough about the green. Mill Creek is beautiful and I loved the seasonal photos from your office space! So inspired (loved the chipmunk story; and OH the cardinal… ugh. Such a common sight at my mom’s birdfeeder, too – big old predatory hawk in her backyard as well).

    Australia? I didn’t know. But I “get it.” I visited way back in 1995, and dream of someday taking my husband to that magical place. So lovely! Also didn’t know Ohio was just a stepping stone for you and hubby, but LOVE that you chose your location BASED on access to nature. There is nothing better.

    So inspired. I could say so much more. Thank you for the shout outs and passing the inspirational “wand” back to me! I also reacted to Annie’s comments the same way you did. So poetic and lovely.

  8. Marilyn
    June 2, 2012 | 9:03 AM

    “To feast the eyes of my soul”. Brilliant Milli! Beautiful, all of it. I know nothing about Ohio, it’s so lovely. Thank you for sharing your intimacy with your places.

  9. Estrella Azul
    June 2, 2012 | 12:53 PM

    My gosh, Milli these photos are amazing! Loved your post, it’s always so great when we inspire each other – I know j has inspired me so many times I lost count by now.

    And you know what? All I can think of now is “I want a yard!!!”

  10. Liam Carton
    June 4, 2012 | 12:07 PM


    Truly beautiful. You live in an amazing place. Reminds me of growing up on the south coast of England (near Bournemouth). It is all gone now, long time passing. But it was an amazing place to go at the time.

    Here in Belgium, there are still a few green places, but you are never far from a road or highway.

    Parts of Ireland are still green like that, but Ireland is no place for anyone anymore. A new wave of emigration is taking hold, but there aren’t that many places for the young to go to.

    Anyhow, I know that this isn’t really the place, but I thought I would just let you know that the book is ‘finished’ (Still needs that little bit of editing to smoth off the rough).

    I feel rather strange, though. I had expected to be really ‘up’, or at least satisfied that I had completed it. Instead, it was more like “Okay, it’s done.” A rather conflicted emotion. I am unsure if I am more happy at completion, or more saddened that the tale is done. The characters, some of whom have become quite dear to me, are now gone. In the past.

    I did not expect this.

    After the 26th I did not get much time, as work and studies intruded. Just got a couple of days in now, to get the final chapter written. Just 3k and 2k days.

    Still, I have finished, and have already started on the first edit. Will then need to leave it for two weeks to forget the words I used. Then a final two or three days to polish the dialog.

    Best of luck to everyone else.

    And I will try to stop by to say hello for this months 10k days, even if I do not participate.



  11. Julia Munroe Martin
    Twitter: wordsxo
    June 4, 2012 | 12:53 PM

    I loved this post! And this: “Whenever I’m distressed I stare out my window in a form of passive therapy that never fails to contain some magical solace, even if I’m too distracted to notice it working on me.” >> I could’ve written this sentence, it’s exactly how I feel, too. And your daily view is incredible!

    As for Mill Creek Park? I had no idea you lived so close to that park! My great uncle had a house right on the edge of the park and I used to go there all the time! I absolutely love that park; what a wonderful place to go! And it’s so crazy to think the steps I took way back then are now the steps you take. Life is such an interesting path of twists and turns.

    p.s. thanks for the shoutout! I love your pics!

  12. Meredith
    June 4, 2012 | 12:56 PM

    I would not be surprise why you have great blogs. Now I know, because you are being inspired by beautiful scenery around you.
    Thanks for sharing some photos. They are awesome!

  13. Lois
    June 4, 2012 | 4:29 PM

    Stunning photos, Milli! 🙂

    If I could move from this area, I’d do it in a heartbeat (and someday, it will happen). For now, I need to learn to be content with where I am and appreciate what I have. Creativity flows from gratefulness, too. 🙂

  14. Ann
    June 13, 2012 | 9:43 PM

    Oh, Milli….this was lovely! Thank you for a peek into what feeds your soul! How delightful! I am SUCH an indoor person that I don’t know if I have a “view” that inspires me that’s outside of the four walls I call home.

    However, I get the absolute SHIVERS when I see my kitchen, my bookshelves LOADED with cookbooks and Honey Bunny!

  15. Becky
    Twitter: bsfirstpages
    July 18, 2012 | 9:35 AM

    Again… these pictures are wonderful but even more than that is the fact that all that wonder is so close to you!

    • Becky
      Twitter: bsfirstpages
      July 18, 2012 | 9:37 AM

      I don’t think I know how to comment right!
      That’s not my twitter name and I didn’t tell it to show a twitter name, I thought I put my latest post — technology is not my friend.

  16. Terri
    August 1, 2012 | 1:27 AM

    Visiting from the links on the Summer of Soul page. What an incredible view from your office! (Mine faces a graffiti’d alleyway … not in a cool, urban-edgy way.) I especially love your first photo because of vignette/circling effect of the foilage-shadow. Also, the birdhouses at each season. And, oh, that park nearby! What a great place to live and work.

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