One of Elena's favorite activities is to sit on the fire escape at her apartment building. She enjoys reading her library books there during the summer.
Elena loves reading on the fire escape because it also provides her a bird's-eye view of the house next door. The house is the only one on the block that has a yard and trees. Elena enjoys watching the old Jewish couple who live in the house.
She notices how the couple interacts and how they care for each other. Eventually, the old man dies, and his wife is forced to leave the house. In due time, another family moves in. This family interests Elena greatly, and she is especially fascinated with Eugene, who ends up attending her school.
During her spare time, Elena continues sitting on the fire escape to read her books. From there, she can see Eugene's backyard and house.
Elena particularly likes Eugene because he also enjoys reading. From her vantage point, Elena can see Eugene reading for hours at his kitchen table. So, Elena feels an affinity to Eugene. During the weekends, she can see Eugene and his family seated on lawn chairs under an oak tree.
So, one of Elena's favorite activities is to sit on the fire escape to read and spy on the inhabitants next door.