And the road goes on forever...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Secret Portals

(Disclaimer: not all of the photos on this page are mine)

There are certain aspects of architectural detailing that I have a fascination with and in addition to courtyards, which are my very favorite, gates rate next highest on the scale. Lucky for me and my camera we have an abundance of both around this neighborhood although I secretly fear I am probably becoming known as the crazed lady with the camera who is always stealing pictures of everyone’s place. Well…not so much right now; most of these beautiful homes sit entirely empty this time of year so I am left free to walk around and shoot my fetish in peace.

Most courtyards have entries guarded by a gate of some type; some of which I have already shown on this blog but will repost to make my point. Courtyards always evoke a sense of somnolent afternoons spent over good food, good wine or good conversation in a warm, inviting climate; what use is all that glorious outdoor space in a wet or cold climate? Maybe that’s why the Mediterranean countries all appear so relaxed, well fed, and high up on the quality-of-life scale not measured by dollars and number of possessions. Courtyards are inward facing, as decks, verandas, balconies and terraces are not. They contain the whole world within their walls; as they are meant to. By their very nature they are intimate rather than expansive; secretive rather than blatant; soothing rather than exposed, unlike all of the above listed sisters which invite the whole world in despite their oft-times lofty views. The following photos are compliments of vacation dream homes in idyllic locales.

I have been especially envious of many around my neck of the woods…er, that is this desert. Obvious care and professional planning were involved in these examples. As I walk by streetside I am cognizant of wanting to peek over and see in just a little more. That is probably the most intriguing thing about courtyard life—it draws in even a stranger to step more slowly and linger as they pass by, imaging all that exists behind the wall or better yet, all that has or will happen behind the wall. Now isn’t that tantalizing?

On to the gates: besides the intrigue, some gates merely seem to point to landscape items, like fountains or cushy patio furniture, which lie beyond. Many gates here use native materials, rustic iron and mesquite wood being two favorites. My hands just itch to open the really alluring ones; don’t yours?

Some gates are extremely welcoming, beckoning us in with beauty, grace, or both.

Yet others seem to scream “what were they thinking”? and totally miss the mark, like this gate which seems almost like an entrance into a fortress or dungeon. Yes, a nice piece of metal work but totally used the wrong way on the wrong house.

Take care with your secret portals; you don’t know who will be trying to peek in.