Now that the weather is reaching that spring-time sweet spot of partially cloudy-to-sunny and cool without being cold, I would like to enjoy the outdoors a bit more from my balcony. Thus, a cleaning has been prompted.
I step out onto the small balcony of my apartment, big enough to hold two lawn chairs and a small table, as well as a little room remaining for pots. Right now, it’s cluttered with last year’s planters and unused potting soil, though most of that is tucked behind the chairs so as to look a little more presentable to any passersby.
The focus of my balcony is the blue flower box my dad made me the year I moved into this apartment. It remains bare for now (can’t exactly go to the store for plants) and in much need of a re-painting, but I still have a nice view.
I like having an apartment on the back side of the building. Especially since it faces a small copse of trees and wild plant growth, even hiding a small creek that I’m sure many animals drink from. I’ll usually only see birds or squirrels. Although I did see a rabbit a few evenings ago and, on one particular morning, I came across an armadillo of all things! Every morning I open my windows to take in this view, since I don’t usually have to worry about much foot traffic back there and it’s nice to have a beautiful, verdant view while I’m stuck working from home. I don’t have windows in my classroom, so this has certainly been one of the perks of working from home.
As I work I on balcony clean up, I notice I am not alone today in enjoying this weather and outdoors time. A young woman sits in a camping chair, visiting and eating lunch with an elderly woman sitting on her own balcony. It’s nice to see them having a chat despite these times, a reminder that we can be distant and still social. I try not to pay too much attention to them — not wanting to come across as a creeper — but I’m fascinated by the story behind their visit. It’s charming to see the younger woman with her lunch perched on her lap, quietly communicating with this older woman. Is she her grandmother? Her aunt? Are they even related at all?
I return to my own business, this balcony isn’t going to clean itself, but I am determined to keep an eye out for them in the future. I want to know their story. I know that’s the writer in me, because I think it’s little moments like that which matter in these times just as much as the big ones and need to be documented just as carefully.
Teacher-Writer’s Note: This piece was inspired by some observations I made in my writer’s notebook today — just a few lines in my notebook turned into this. I typed it all out as a vomit draft first — one big paragraph, letting my ideas wander. Then I went back to the top and started adding paragraphs. I knew some lines I wrote later in the vomit draft needed to be moved earlier in the published draft (such as the part about the weather, in the vomit draft I didn’t mention that until towards the end, but it made more sense at the beginning). I also cut some parts — words or even a sentence or two — and some things I just reworded or rephrased. I paid close attention to this as I want to do better about sharing my own writing strategies with my students in the future.