I live on the seventh floor of a tall condo building. The light exposure of my unit is northwest. I never get any direct sunlight. I was concerned when I moved here, worried that I would miss the warm ambiance that facing a sun-filled east or southeast would bring. But I have gotten to love the northwestward direction. The light coming at me is soft and makes mellow all of the natural and built structures.
From my large windows I can look in different directions. To the left, I see one wing of my high-rise. The façade doesn’t change much from day-to-day or season-to-season, except on a day like today when snow pillows sit on the outside window sills adding a bit of softness to the brutalist architecture. I’m not a fan of this style. It connotes a cold, stony aspect to the world and to me if I choose to stare at it.
But I have another option. I look to the right which is much more visually appealing. Being on the seventh floor offers a view over a parking lot where I can look down on moving cars, trucks, or plows. I see people park and leave their vehicles. Occasionally, one of them is coming to visit me. It’s interesting and life-confirming to see constant human activity.
Looking up, I see trees on adjacent conservation land. My vantage point gives an evolving four-season experience. Right now it is winter and the trees are bare. With our first snow, as with the window sills, the tree branches and trunks are dusted with white muting the hard outlines. There is nothing to obscure the distant houses that, in other seasons, are hidden from me. This winter perspective lets me know that there are others living not too far away.
In a few months spring will arrive creating a whole new happening. Trees will acquire a different quality as pale green or yellow buds and sprouts begin to appear. It’s an exciting time because it heralds yet another cycle of regeneration. Delicate, almost ephemeral, color covers everything making a great contrast to the starkness of winter. Each day will display expanding growth as life continues to bloom.
As the spring growth matures, little shoots and branches will evolve into a sea of deep green leaves and needles. The houses that I was able to see in winter will disappear behind a veil of blossoming and I may forget they, and the people who live in them, are still there.
When fall arrives, the overwhelming greenness transforms to an incredible display of color – deep gold, burnt orange, majestic reds and maroons – intermixed with the now slightly dulled evergreens. What a sight! I can sit by my window and enjoy the kind of foliage that people travel miles to see. I know that soon that vibrancy will be gone and the houses behind the trees will again be revealed, a reminder that there is a neighborhood just sometimes out of sight.
Through all of these seasons, the parking lot with its variety of cars and people keeps its pace. The comings and goings for social visits, work, deliveries, services, and landscaping never stop. Those at ground-level don’t have the view that I have overlooking this busyness while, at the same time, I can rejoice in the beautiful cycle of nature that exists above and around all of us.