I started this column at a rectangular formica-topped table in an air-conditioned the living room of the apartment house where I live. I almost said “in my apartment house” but I don’t own the building, except in the way that being a citizen entitles me to a share of our collective possession, even though I receive more benefit than I pay out to the IRS due to my status as a low-income individual; one of the working poor.

I am grateful.

The building is being spruced up. Windows were washed, though I asked to be left out. The apartments have deep, wide windows. In mine, there are bee balm and thyme, oregano, parsley, a lemongrass experiment, and two patio tomatoes.

There are actually three green tomatoes, ranging in size from very small to almost-visible-to-the-naked-eye. I’d rather have less than perfectly clear glass between me and the outside, rather than disturb the garden that is growing inside. The plant with the babies is almost as tall as I.

After breaking a toe a week or so ago, I used the outside temperatures as an excuse to almost totally give up on daily walks. But one can stay inside only so long — hot weather or cold — and a bit of a breeze can lift the heat if only for the time it takes to perambulate the block.

For most of my life, I have been wicked healthy. Was that cultural appropriation? I grew up in eastern New England, where “wicked” works in that sentence, but I was born to a different language and a religious sect in which, according to learnreligions.com, wickedness is, “a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue; evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality.” In Genesis, human wickedness justified the wrath of the almighty, bringing fire and brimstone and lots of death from on high.

Back here on the ground last week, the parking lot got nice bright lines painted between the spaces. I think they will be more visible this winter, amid the snow and inevitable slush. I like to back up into my spot, ready to head straight out the next time with my battery accessible, should I need a jump. Backing up can be a challenge when you’re navigating with mirrors in winter’s early dusk and there’s a dusting of the day’s flurries obscuring what’s left of fading lines.

The painters used this cool little motorcycle-thing to do the lines between the spaces. The big blue wheelchairs and the numbers were sprayed through stencils, but the motorcycle-thing was new to me as it zipped up the lines straight and true, one after the other after the other.

Numbering the spaces is a new thing. When I saw the innovation, it raised the hope people might stop treating this like a public parking lot.

When I got home from work that afternoon, someone’s shiny SUV was there, proving numbers at the foot of a parking space won’t help people realize it is reserved for the use of a specific permit holder. Not even the official rectangular signs on metal posts at highly visible intervals around the lot can stop some people from parking in spaces I and others expect to find waiting at the end of a long day.

For a long time, I wouldn’t buy a car with an air conditioner. The 2008 Prius I had until this winter had a digital thermostat for the heater and I would set the inside temp to match the outside reading, think of the A/C as a dehumidifier, and feel a bit less guilty.

Having a home where common inside space is air conditioned lets me slightly off the hook for my share of the 10% of global electricity such devices consume and the atmospheric damage caused by the coolants they release. I tell myself the A/C is not there for me. As I said, I am in good health and don’t have asthma or COPD or any other condition that would make this kind of weather a threat to my continued existence on the physical plane. Some of my neighbors are not as fortunate.

On Sunday, I got into my RAV4, turned the air down low and the fan up full blast, and drove a four-hour round trip to spend the afternoon with someone I love.

Such is the slippery slope of creeping comfort.

I am trying not to be one of the people on this planet who put their own comfort and desire ahead, not just of their fellow humans, but of everything that lives and breathes, or subsists of a natural chemical reaction. At the same time, it is becoming clear judging others to standards I don’t hold myself will only make things worse all around.

Through my slightly less than perfectly clear windows, tiny tomatoes turn sunlight into food. They offer no judgment at all.

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a weekly basis.