At the age of 92, Edie no longer felt the need to apologise for her views and opinions. She had lived in the same street all of her life, and was as familiar with the workings of her home as she was with her own mind. Both were idiosyncratic and liable to be threadbare in parts, but still functional most of the time.

What really bothered Edie, and she spoke freely about it to whoever would listen, was that whilst time may have stopped at the gate of 43 Sterling Street, progress had proceeded at pace in the rest of the street and suburb. The neighbours that she had grown up with had, of course, all gone, either to the next life or further afield. She used to know most of the families in the street, but as the years swirled past, not only did the houses change hands, but in more recent decades the houses were knocked down and replaced by small unit blocks. That was bad enough, and Edie had railed against the changes when she was younger and had more energy. But the unit blocks were just a precursor to the huge residential towers that now shrouded the tidy, if tired, bungalow that she still called home.

There had been more visits from real estate agents to try to convince her that it was in her interest to sell than she cared to remember. Edie had been polite at first, realising that they were just doing their job, but this courtesy was eroded by their persistence. She’d even considered putting up a sign, making it clear that she wasn’t going to sell, but thought it would only encourage some of them to try more inventive ways to get her to move out.

Sitting near the living room window, she used to enjoy watching familiar faces passing by on their way to work, or to the shops, or to church on Sundays. The hedge out the front of the house provided a degree of privacy, but Edie was able to pick people out by their hats which bobbed along the hedge at regular intervals before the picket front gate gave her a glimpse of passers-by. The hedge was still there, and still neatly clipped, but the view beyond was now vastly different. Massive residential units hemmed her in from all sides, blocking out the sunshine that used to filter through the garden and dry the clothes on the Hills Hoist. Edie had watched the construction of the buildings, her neck cricked at an unnatural angle as the levels reached higher and higher.

It had seemed impossible that there would be enough people to fill even one of the buildings, but it seemed that not everyone wanted or was able to live in a house with a front and back garden. Edie had watched as the empty shells were filled with people, the hundreds of windows flickering at different times with lights and movement.

In her dreams, Edie could see the Watson house which had been directly across the road. Each year, Mrs Watson planted bulbs and in spring the garden was a blaze of colour and the heady scent of freesias and jonquils wafted across the street. A sense of connection and community had been part of the fabric of the streetscape, and when Edie looked out at the bland anonymity of the units across from her home, she felt a wave of annoyance at what had been lost in the name of progress.

I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find other posts with #bloganuary and join in the challenge.

Photo: Chatswood streetscape