I’ve taken Chicago’s El three times. Once, to dinner with a coworker at my former job, while we were there running a training session. Once, in June, to see the White Sox play. And yesterday, to the Addison station, where a group of my coworkers and I disembarked to attend the Cubs’ beat-down of the Reds in front of an extremely enthusiastic crowd. We were in town for a team retreat, but managed to structure the weekend so we could make a baseball afternoon of it.
On my other two rides, I noticed the cityscape, but never before this weekend noticed the gardens visible from the train. Here and there, fire escapes and back staircases exploded with greenery and color. A few rowhouse tenants had co-opted their roof for container gardens.
I noticed mostly flowers on the ride to and from Wrigley, but on occasion, I saw tomato plants climbing up rooftop trellises and even spotted a chili pepper plant on one balcony.
I could see three separate approaches to urban gardening just from the platform of the station. While my coworkers chatted, I wandered the platform, shooting garden photos and thinking about the creative possibilities for dealing with limited space and the long shadows cast by city buildings.
It made me hopeful. I don’t plan to live in a smallish town forever, but one thing that has bothered me more and more recently has been the thought that, by moving back to an urban area, I might have to return to my pre-Iowa, non-gardening ways. Our trip to Wrigley was, certainly, a pilgrimage to a National Baseball Shrine. But it was also an opportunity to gather ideas for future gardens, even if they don’t involve digging into the earth.