There have just been too many things to do lately. And I’ve been having trouble handling them all. I think I need to cut down on some of the stuff I’m doing. Bahh… here’s a quick reflection, though.

There are two things that I love about having a balcony. The first is cooking on a barbecue. I feel like there’s a bit of a stereotype that I’m playing into here… but I really love standing by the bbq, beer in hand, smelling the smoke of the food that I’m cooking while standing outdoors. I like cooking… but cooking while enjoying some fresh air rather than a cramped, hot kitchen? I guess not everyone has a cramped kitchen either… but basically every kitchen I’ve had since 2013 has barely fit two people, one of them literally. So I relish those moments of outdoor cookery.

The second thing I love about having a balcony is having some outdoor plants. A small bush, or tree. That sort of thing. We recently started buying lots of plants, but before doing so (and forcing ourselves to take the plants seriously), the only plants we managed to keep alive were more hardy outdoor ones. My partner and I have spent many evening eating dinner on a balcony, if for no other reason than… that’s where we can enjoy the plants and kindof feel like we’re closer to nature.

I feel really energized by outdoor spaces. For a while I was of the not actually serious, but still kindof serious, opinion that every housing unit should include some outdoor space per unit (i.e. a blacony or something). I’ve since started to recognize a couple things… one is that while there are certainly studies that show that time in nature is generally beneficial to humans, that doesn’t extend to urban balconies, which have very little to do with nature (though I think I used to equate “outside” with “nature” at least to some limited extent). The other is that I’ve had the luck and privilege to live in apartments where a balcony is pleasant (i.e. on a relatively quiet street with some trees, or in a unit where the balcony is at the backside of the building).

I think, however, that injecting a little bit of nature into living spaces has to be beneficial on some level, though, mustn’t it?

Maybe it doesn’t make sense to mandate outdoor spaces for every unit… but communal spaces, perhaps? Vancouver is great about parks… there are many of them, and they’re quite nice. But maybe buildings should provide some sort of communal outdoor space? Something that isn’t completely public, nor completely private, where residents can participate in the space? (decorating, maintaining, etc.) I think one of the most relaxing things I have in my life these days is taking care of our plants, and I just wonder if that could be beneficial to more people.

As a final note, I think Vancouver does this well in our neighbourhood in other ways. There are little community-maintained gardens throughout our street, and they’re lovely:

A variety of red, white, pink and yellow flowers in a community-maintained garden on a street with low-rise apartments nearby.