When the sun gracefully bends down in the sky to about here

the most beautiful thing happens off my balcony. Before I show you that, let me back up in time just a bit.

When we first moved into this little condo about a year ago, we were in the middle of some very stressful family things. We were distracted and heavy with Life and it was such a stroke of Universe (can I use “Universe” that way? Yes? Good.) that Joe’s aunts owned a place that was becoming available right when we needed it. It made the entire process of trying to find a place so much easier. We just slipped in quietly.

I remember when we walked through, checking out the closet space and shower, looking off the balcony and thinking, yes, this will work. The balcony faced the busy street, but was insulated by large and leafy mature trees. The sound was muffled. You could hardly see the cars whiz by. There were flower scents heavy in the air and hummingbirds flitting around. I thought, as long as there are these trees here, I can stay here. I enjoyed the shade and comfort of those trees every morning and every evening. They created a little nest for me. Quiet, solitary.

Fast forward through time, because we can, to late summer, early fall. Perhaps September? One morning I woke to the sound of a chainsaw. Looking out the window, I saw men in orange vests suspended above ground, deep into my trees, chopping off bits here and there and large branches right in the center of the best, fullest tree, the one I’d come to count on as a buffer to the world. I was devastated.

The next day, as I drank my coffee and glared at the empty spot where the branches used to be and where now nothing but a barren trunk stood, I wished we could move. Immediately. I hated the cars driving by. I hated the increased dust that flew up to the balcony and into the house. I felt betrayed. I spent a lot of time not looking out the balcony doors.

Fast forwarding through time again, somewhere in late November, I noticed some green bits had sprung from the trunk. They were tiny bits of things, nothing like their majestic predecessors, but there they were, all the same. Green and alive and making themselves known. I was begrudgingly impressed with their will to live, but very slow to warm up to them. And then dusk happened.

I sat with my cup of tea and couldn’t tear my eyes away. The honey dripping light blazed the bark to a glow that almost made me cry, but to be fair, I’ve always been a sucker for yellows and browns. The color turned dark amber, and then within seconds, was gone. I didn’t realize I’d been holding my breath.

The days were short and the Dusk Tree glow lasted for approximately 47 seconds every evening around 4:30. I couldn’t wait and found myself finding reasons to be hanging around the balcony, waiting to see the light show. I busied myself at dusting the cd cases or talking to the houseplants. My Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura erythroneura) Gracie, (who has always refused to do what she’s supposed to do: pray), and I have historically found ourselves at odds when it comes to air temperature. She’s a picky little thing, wanting no breeze whatsoever, while I prefer a nice flow through the house. We had a lot to talk about.

One particular evening, as the sun dipped low to right above the ocean, Gracie shushed me quiet and began to fold her leaves, doing exactly the thing that her genera is meant to do. The tree outside glowed amber and Gracie, one by one, brought each leaf up and tucked it away. I was quiet, of course, and meditated in my own way.

Early the next morning, I crept out to watch Gracie unfold and welcome the sun. The tree outside was not just a Golden Dusk Tree, it was also a beautiful Back-lit Green Glowing Tree in the morning. I sat on the couch with my coffee and pointed out to Joe how beautiful the light was just then. Yes, he said. No more words were required. Although, at this point, he might argue that me pointing out how beautiful the light is every morning and every night might be more words than are necessary.

Here is a composite of “our” tree:

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  1. Leah, your writing has taken my breath away. This made me long for a good, meaty piece of writing again and I’m gonna catch up on more wonderful words by you.

    I so want to sit on your balcony with you to meditate.

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