My Fall From the Balcony

Spring and autumn remind us to dream of better things — things that we remember and love, things that we hope for. Summer and winter remind us of reality — our real place in the extremes of time and space. We live in summer and winter, but we long for an address in spring or autumn. Dream on… — June 22, 2009

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After my last post about the balcony garden, I finally decided to go ahead and uproot some of the tired plants that had been flowering and prospering since spring. It was, admittedly, a difficult decision that was made infinitely easier by first picking out new plants at the garden center. Surrounded by rows and rows of colorful IMG_4319chrysanthemums, asters, and pansies, the tables turned. Loyalty went out the window as I piled several plants into our shopping cart and began making mental note of which plants were going to get the “axe” as soon as I got home!

My final surprise guest on the balcony, this year, is a small crop of red radishes. They’re a surprise guest because they took a very interesting route to get here. We bought them from the produce section of the grocery store. I cut off all of their greens to make one of our favorite salads, and I sliced a few of them to go into that salad. But, the rest of them, I put in the vegetable crisper for use later. By and by, I’d managed to forget about them. So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the crisper, one day, and saw brave little sprouts coming from these formerly beheaded radishes! Brave little sprouts, growing so diligently there in the cold, dark of the refrigerator, reaching for sunlight, completely unaware of the futility of their quest.

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My tendency to anthropomorphize almost anything I come into contact with compelled me to have mercy on these four radishes. I decided to rescue them by planting them in one of the larger containers. Within a day or so, they’d sprouted strong, healthy greens. We’re looking forward to eating them soon!

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Now that the riffraff has been mostly cleared out and the balcony is now adorned in a new palette of colors and blossoms, I find myself lingering outside a bit more, just staring at the plants and taking it all in. The wind blowing through the chimes takes my thoughts in a lot of directions as I watch autumn coming in steadily.

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Autumn has an eerie resemblance to spring, in many ways. Both bring crisp morning air, interesting changes in outdoor colors, fun changes in your wardrobe — all similarities that I find perplexing since both seasons serve two completely different purposes. Spring is all about new life emerging as a season of stark quiet and rest passes away. Autumn is about harvesting the labors of summer, celebrating bounty and beauty, and about… well, about the end of things.

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Appropriate, then, that this will likely be our last autumn on this little balcony. Our last glimpse of the dumpster covered with leaves of crimson, ochre, and all of those other colors impossible to describe. The last time I’ll gaze down and think of what a tiny miracle it is that we’ve been privileged to enjoy this bit of sky, this bit of earth that we had to drag piece by piece up three flights of unforgiving stairs.

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Thankfully, it’s been a great growing season, all told. The plans I made of the balcony garden came true almost exactly as I’d portrayed them in my little colored pencil sketch. Granted, nature has its own pace and way. So, there were definitely days that looked less presentable than others. But, as I pulled out plants to put in the ones that will see us into the first frost, I remembered that there were beautiful spring and summer days out here. There were a few days when the petunias looked like colorful fountains flowing out of their hanging baskets — just like I’d scribbled in on the graph paper. There was, in fact, a giant forest of basil on the west end of the balcony — emerald green just like the hurriedly drawn lines from the tip of my green pencil — fragrant every time the breeze blew through. And there were definitely many coveted cosmos.

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In just a few weeks, a frost will come through to completely wipe out these colorful annuals and put to bed our perennials. Anthropomorphizing again, I wonder if the perennials realize that they’re likely to fall asleep on the balcony only to wake up in a different thyme & place.

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~ by Jason on October 3, 2011.

12 Responses to “My Fall From the Balcony”

  1. What a wonderful post. Maybe it’s hormones, but hearing you speak about your garden and the seasons, especially the very last sentence made me a little teary this morning :-).
    And gorgeous pictures! I bought myself some cheap mums last week, and they’re such a happy little addition to my drab front walk. I’m looking forward to the spring when I will have a garden budget. Might need your help!

  2. I get a little teary when I start talking too much about the seasons, myself. In my opinion, they’re one of the most beautiful, fascinating things about creation — and there’s so much to be learned from them, just by paying attention.

    I love mums! I’m not even sure why. As a flower shape, they’re not terribly exciting. I guess I just love how many different colors, shapes, and other variations there are… and I always associate them with autumn, so that makes them an automatic favorite. I’ll bet your walkway looks sweet with a few potted mums. I love the houses that do that, around here — maybe even throwing in a pumpkin or a wee scarecrow! πŸ™‚

  3. Lovely post – there is really nothing like nature and plants and flowers, the experience working with them, the joy, the peace they bring… was very enjoyable reading your post.

    Hope your winter blooms bring as much joy and stick as close to the ‘plan/design’ as the seasons past.

    Cheers…

    • Being my final autumn on this balcony, I didn’t bother to plan second phase of the balcony. Interestingly enough, it turned out rather pleasant on its own.

      I do enjoy working with plants and — even though I’ve often bemoaned being confined to a container garden — you are able to observe the individual plants much more closely since you have so few and they are “portable”. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Love the pretty flowers, sweetheart!

  5. Wow what a green thumb you must have Jason!!!

  6. The flowers look beautiful. I always like seeing pictures of your balcony.

  7. mmm… a giant forest of basil sounds delicious! Do you have a food dehydrator so that you can salvage what’s left before frost?

    Great photos and writing!

    • Thanks for reading, Brenda.

      You betcha I have a dehydrator! Though, admittedly, I pulled the plug on my basil a little early this year, harvesting it and drying it to make room for the fall perennials and annuals I wanted to put in. I’ve been known to let the basil go until frost, but — at least around here — frost is preceded by such a long, dark, cooler period that the basil begins to lose heart before it actually dies… kinda sad to watch, really! πŸ™‚ So, I did the humane thing by letting it bow out while the crowd was still begging for more.

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