By Edith Gallagher Boyd

The third floor balcony where we live is a sanctuary for me in many ways. Although it is  in Florida, it has an “up north” feel to it, an expression I’ve heard countless times since we moved to the town of Jupiter.

The balcony is surrounded with Florida maples, pine trees, and greenery curling up the trees and shrubs that could easily be in Pennsylvania. The forest of green muffles the sounds of the busy street in front of us. Time spent on our balcony never fails to calm me, as I listen to the birds singing, watch the squirrels scurrying and envelop myself in the color green.  

A visit to the balcony often includes reflections on my childhood and it’s taken me a while to figure out why. The obvious connection is sitting outdoors being surrounded by nature’s beauty. But I’ve sensed there is something beyond that in the sounds that I hear. It’s the soothing sound of trucks that have just shifted into third gear, the purring whooshing sound both determined yet gentle. My childhood home was  on a street that became increasingly busy, and although there weren’t commercial trucks on it, there were many cars and small trucks that picked up speed and shifted into third gear right in front of our porch. 

During childhood, our front porch became an extra room after we got through the winter and enjoyed the spring. Starting in April, the blooming maple trees, azaleas, tulips and daffodils made their presence felt in the tiny neatly-trimmed yards in our neighborhood. My father sat on the porch hoping to spot the arrival of the first robin in spring.

As a child and adolescent, something stirred in me at the sound of the shift into third gear. These vehicles were accelerating and going somewhere. I sensed that when my childhood was over I, too, would be going places and seeing things, eager to see the world and meet new people. 

My anticipation has been rewarded with a well-travelled life and I’ve lived not only in my native Philadelphia but also in Boston and Jupiter, Florida. The sound of a truck in third gear here in Jupiter gives me a sense of nostalgia and joy, for my leaving the birthplace and exploring the world. The sound of a truck in third gear brings back memories of my brother teaching me to drive in his Volkswagen Beetle. The sound of third gear on my balcony in Jupiter is a happy sound evoking memories of a happy childhood home and a happy life here with my husband in Jupiter, Florida. 

Edith Gallagher Boyd is a graduate of Temple University and a former French teacher. Her work can be found here:

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