Beyond the Door

It was the door that first sold me on the Victorian house I now call home.  Painted deep violet, a vivid hue punctuating a street lined with more sedate colonial colors.  It was a little world-worn; fine lines etched into the surface revealed a web of sturdy amber pine,

The house we left–Jim’s home, for all of us–had a forest green wood door, solid and unbowed.  A sparkling brass handle was Jim’s new touch; a brass lion head knocker, very slightly off kilter, had stood guard over the families within for more than two centuries.

I’ve wandered past black doors and white, wildly colorful, and every shade and texture in between.  Cookie cutter sentries or one-of-a-kind creations.  Modern chrome.  Ancient hand-carved wood.  Flimsy or quadruple-bolted and impenetrable.  Dense opaque barriers. Swirling glimpses of color and movement beyond decorative bullet glass panels.

Eyes may be windows to the soul, revealing the nature and depth of what is within.  Not necessarily so for doors.

A door may serendipitously appear as one’s gateway to a neighborhood (just as sparsely-used kitchens happen to have come with the places I’ve inhabited).  But sometimes a door–meticulously maintained, bedecked with spider webs and flotsam from seasons past, or garlanded with fresh flowers–expresses a facet of the personalities within.

A door may not necessarily reveal anything about what lies beyond it, but its adornments often speak to what kind of person will be found within: a holiday wreath, natural or man-made, plain or ornate; a circle of seashells or eggs; fresh flowers; sedate and steady or pulsing lights; a stern “no trespassing” warning.

Doors may swish or click open with the touch of a button, or settle with a heavy metallic clunk.  I remember the ease of stepping inside a hospital’s electronic doors….and the effort of getting back in beyond locked doors on patient floors and to a sequence of emergency room bays. I remember walking through series of doors with the people who had come to see Jim during his last hospital stay, and waiting outside his room door, gathering my thoughts in the cooler air.

The heavy wooden doors to Phillips Church, where my husband’s service was held.  To the left, just next to the ornate iron hinges, was a narrow garden bed bearing a slim wooden stake holding the letters “LOVE.”

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Father’s Day Deluge

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It’s difficult to mark Father’s Day when the man to whom fatherhood was the most fundamental adult role is no longer here.

My children and I have occupied different venues on such days, first venturing only across the state border for a short mountain hike, and the next year flying across the sea to Northern Ireland, where I remain certain that a heavenly prank was played on me in an effort to get me to smile.

Baby steps.

As predicted, today brought torrential rain, a doleful downpour so strong it woke me in the wee hours.

This time, I took a page from Jim and prepared for the Father’s Day deluge by actually consulting the weather predictions and setting out a day early.  True to form, I managed to get lost both on my way to my original destination and in the woods where I wandered for hours at my runner-up spot.

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On the bright side, being lost in the woods means being less self-conscious about engaging in animated conversation with the departed.

I rushed a picture of a waterfall, then paused and wove a path to a different angle: “You would have waited.  You would have gone up here and held still until the sun fell there.” Click.

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But eventually practical thoughts can intrude even while wandering among waterfalls on a glorious early summer day.

“I’ve done it again, Jim.  How do I get out of here?”

“Oh, I should follow the trail with the horse poop?  You’re right: the stable must be nearby….”

After a few hours I found my way out: there was indeed a stable.

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I had just a small request for Jim. “Could you send me just one songbird, or a butterfly–a moth would be fine.  I’d actually love a moth.”

I stepped out of the woods into bright sun and a path that led to stables.  To my right was a pond where a goose basked with his brood.  Something brushed by me and settled on the ground. Before taking off it paused several measures, slowly opening and closing its wings with the steadiness of a heartbeat.

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Double Rainbow

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Reflected Double-Rainbow Over Portsmouth (c) SMG

Sometimes the rainbow’s right there, its variegated hues blended and bowed overhead, utterly untouchable, while giving the illusion of being merely out of reach.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,/Or what’s a heaven for?”

Not infrequently, a splash of rainbow appears, then quickly fades away.

More often, following a winter of endless waves of white, my daily rambles now take me past the bits and pieces of never-ending rainbows, there for the taking.

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An Off Season

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Such has been my mood lately that when asked to contemplate the concept of “off-season” I immediately pictured the Overlook Hotel’s unseasonably off-kilter winter caretaker.

Spring was a long time coming this year.

In port-side towns winter seeped into spring and was searingly still.  Well into April, wood pallets were strewn with ocean buoys, comically over-sized champagne corks, game pieces flung from a board by a frustrated Poseidon.

Vessels were cocooned in plastic and rose from still water.  Color photographs taken on gray days were rendered in black and white.

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The off-season’s soundtrack is muted.  Tourists are in warmer climates, and it is too cold even for dog walkers to be outside for long.  No bells clang from offshore when the inlets have frozen.

Walking alone I imagine animals curled into one another’s warmth in underground dens, breathing in, breathing out, until the sun beckons and glows summer gold again.

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