My desk is tucked into the far corner of my dining room, just to the left of the bank of windows that take up most of the external wall. I can’t see outside if I look directly in front of me, but if I turn my head to the right just a bit, I see slivers of blue sky in between office buildings and the rapidly rising Comcast tower.
Set up in front of half of the windows I have an old wooden ironing board with green metal legs. I stumbled across it at a funky old antique store that used to be on 20th Street, when I first moved to Philly. I used it as a beside table for a while, but it slants a bit, and after the third glass of water slid off of it to a splashy demise, I decided it needed to serve a different purpose. It became the home of my apartment garden, elevating the plants to window level so that they were able to get the maximum amount of sunlight that my north-facing apartment can provide.
The plants have come and gone over the years. I used to have a bunch of frond-y ferns that I grew from a friend’s clippings, but after months of green vibrancy, they turned inexplicably brown and shriveled. Last summer I experimented with oregano and thyme, but that pot became bug-infested and gnats swarmed me every time I sat down at my computer. It was not conducive for working, and I was afraid I would actually get a bug in my computer. I had a successful stint with basil, it continued to produce fragrant leaves for nearly five months, until it suddenly went to seed seemingly overnight.
These days I have a sickly rosemary plant that I talk to and encourage (as I’d really love to see it thrive). There’s a money tree that a friend gave me for my birthday four years ago. It’s done so well that it is in it’s fourth pot and is threatening to outgrow that one as well. If only it actually grew money. I have a little bay tree that I ordered online as a mini-sapling a year ago, it has since sent out a second full branch. There’s an enormous tree of unknown origins that would happily take over the entire apartment if I let it. The last one is a christmas cactus that had been sent to my grandmother as a holiday gift just before I moved to Philly. It was a stumpy little thing when I arrived, but over the years it has quadrupled in size and right now has some new leaves that are so freshly green that they seem to glow.
These plants filter the light that come through my windows, and I get accustomed to the patterns of shadows that they cast across my desk and down onto the floor. Last night, I was watering them and decided to give everything a bit of a rotation, in order to give the leaves that faced away from the light a chance to get their full dose of sun.
When I sat down at my computer this morning something felt different. I looked around, trying to get a handle on what felt altered in the space and air. Glancing to the plants, I realized that the seemingly insignificant adjustment of their pots hadn’t only give them a change in angle, but refreshed my own view and perspective as well. I’m always happily delighted when you are able to give yourself something you need without even knowing it.