8 thoughts on “Opening Windows, Opening Lives

  1. Delishious, as always, Linda.
    Thought you’d might enjoy my friends’ photoblog, Nirgal Wallis


    Terrific to have you stop by. I thought of you a couple of weeks ago, in the midst of considering whether to install Typekit and try a new font on the blog. I decided to leave well enough alone, knowing my ability to sabotage things that are working perfectly well, cyber-wise.

    Nirgal’s work is stunning. I was especially taken by the use of titles in a variety of languages. Remarkably, the titles I couldn’t interpret – Persian? Urdu? Russian? – acted in their own way as shutters, preventing me from fully looking in as surely as other shutters keep us from looking out.

    I don’t mean at all to imply that’s bad. The titles I couldn’t understand stopped me, forced me to look more carefully, made me more curious. Really, quite a remarkable experience.


  2. Hello Linda,
    I love this new story. And like all of your stories, your way with words is just beautiful. This story is magical and I read that many people feel just like you about this time of year.

    I am afraid when I grew up back in the mid-south, I was one of those that did not welcome the fall because I knew winter was around the corner.
    But we all know I am a tropical girl and cannot deal with any type of cold weather. Actually, even in the hot summer months our neighbors are all outside all the time in our backyards, patios, garages and front yards. Sure, when heat index gets to be 100 it is harder to be outside, but being 60 degrees is worse for most of us here.

    And our “crime” is so bad in the past 20 years, even in good areas we cannot go to bed at night with our home open in SE Florida. Every home here has alarm systems so that you cannot open the house and have the alarm on at night. In the 1970’s we could but no longer.

    But our local issues do not take away from the beauty of your story and your words.
    I love your illustrations also!


    You’d not be happy here this morning, little Miss I-Have-to-Have-It-Above-Sixty! :-) We have a lovely 53 degrees, and there are vague mutterings about lows in the mid-40s later this week. It seems autumn will arrive after all.

    It’s a sad truth that we’ve lost some of our freedom to open our homes to the natural world. The sole reason my mom wanted to move into an apartment on the second floor rather than the first was for security. She was willing to trade the difficulty of stairs for the added sense of safety.
    But the stairs haven’t been a problem for her yet, and she can have her windows open – a true pleasure for one who doesn’t get out as much as she used to.

    I do think my own sense of imprisonment at the end of summer has as much to do with a hunger for change as any desire for cold weather. Once we’ve had a few fronts and some rain, I’d be perfectly willing to be able to join you in tomato growing!


  3. With December around the corner, and a week of November heat behind us (luckily Melbourne’s reputation for having “four seasons in a day” is true, and we get unexpected bursts of relief from whatever weather is plaguing us) this piece really did remind me of what is in store over the coming months. Something tells me that the 2010/2011 Summer holidays are going to be scorching!


    I read a couple of southern hemisphere blogs regularly, and despite the fact that I “know better”, I’m always startled by the opposing seasons. Perhaps the template we impose on the physical world is ingrained in childhood. When I lived in Liberia, there was something unnatural about watching the sun set over the Atlantic. The Atlantic is east, after all, not west, and I had to make a conscious mental adjustment every time – even though it took only a second.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and for commenting. You’re welcome any time!


  4. As I was reading this, I was ***WHOOSHED*** back in time to childhood summers with fans of all shapes, sizes and locations, open windows with limp curtains wishing for a breeze, Mama’s hot kitchen and screened doors banging.

    On visits to the family farm, we’d sit on Granny’s front porch lazily propelling the rocking chairs or pushing porch swing with one foot, listening to the grownups’ desultory conversations, with the occasional baying of a hound in the distance. Supper was over, the kitchen cleaned up, the farm chores were done for the day. Bedtime was looming but the cooler evening temps would keep us lingering.

    Central A/C is nice but it shuts us off from our neighbors and we no longer know who many of them are. Unlike ‘days of yore’, when every house had a front porch. When front porch sitting was a fine art and folks would call out, “Evenin'” to each other and wave at passing cars.


    No one who grew up with those screen doors ever forgets the sound – not just the “bang!” that comes when you’re already off the porch and ten feet away, but the long, raspy, metallic complaint as you stretch the coiled spring. You know – the sounds that come just before somebody yells, “Stop hanging on that door!”

    And one of the remembered images that gave rise to this post is of lying in the back bedroom of my grandparents’ home, condemned to a nap. There’s no forgetting the chenille bedspread, the metal bedframe or the sheer, limp curtains you describe. They were so light they would stir with breezes I wasn’t able to feel. Sometimes I imagined they were alive.

    You’re exactly right about porch-sitting being an art. It’s active, not passive, and it helps to hold a community together. Maybe that would be a winning political slogan: Fewer backyards, More Front Porches! I’d vote for that!


  5. Linda,

    Thank you so much for this beautiful Sunday morning gift. I simply love your writing, the images, sounds, scents your words suggest. How lucky you are to count Tchékov amongst your friends ;) He is one of mine too. I was lucky enough to visit his house and garden in Ialta, Crimée long ago. As I strolled around his garden I understood better how his imagination and thoughtful writing were partially inspired by its surroundings at all Seasons. Such as yours.

    Autumn is almost gone here but not yet, today is mild and sunny and soon I will be out in the woods with my beagle, enjoying every minute and every step of our walk. I will remember your words and the images you created in my mind. Thank you.

    PS. Beautiful photography too; the last one, is it a painting from Picasso´s “Blue Period” ? I had a postcard of it once and loved it.


    Your mention of Picasso gave me the clue I needed to find the source for the beautiful painting. I found her image originally in a YouTube video, a version of Marisol’s Hablame Del Mar Marinero. Because I didn’t know the source I linked to the video, but now it’s properly identified: “Woman at the Window at Figueres” by Salvador Dali. The woman is his sister, Ana Maria, and she’s looking out at the Bay of Cadaqués, where Dalí used to spend summers.

    Just as I think of Picasso in a certain way, I always think of Dali’s work in terms of his surrealism. It never occurred to me he might have painted such a beautiful piece. Every new post brings me a good bit more knowledge – thank you for your question!

    Thank you, too, for sharing your memories of Chekov’s home and garden. I already have Van Gogh’s garden at Arles on my wish-list of places to see. It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever visit there, but if I do, I’ll plan to make a stop at Chekov’s, too!

    Thank you so much for visiting, and for your own, beautiful blog. The photographs of Istanbul are splendid, and I’ll be sharing them with a friend who lived there for a time.


  6. “…to leave prisons of our own making and choice…” Favorite line – indeed Shore, I have recently realized how adept I can be at creating my own prison -though the discovery usually comes w/keys. Life is toooo sweet to be Lady Shallot.

    Open the window and breathe deep, and while falling into Rumi (whom I never had opportunity to read or learn about) I discovered this golden nugget:

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.
    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    as an unexpected visitor.
    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still, treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.
    The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
    meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
    Be grateful for whatever comes.
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    — Jelaluddin Rumi,

    Thanks, Shore, for opening the door. ;-)


    Sometimes we make our own prisons, and sometimes we move into whatever’s available. I’ll never forget a certain experience I had with a street person I caught in the process of a theft. I’m saving the details for a story down the road, but the point is this: when the police arrived, he was more than willing to head off to the slammer. As a policeman said to me after he’d gone, “He’ll get a clean bed, a shower, a hot meal and tv. What’s not to like?”

    What’s not to like, of course, is that his solution is temporary. When he got out of jail and was back to “freedom”, it was no freedom at all, only a plunge back into the imprisoning grip of a destructive cycle.

    And there, I suppose, is where I grow cautious about Rumi’s words. Yes, all experience can be valuable. Yes, there is reason to allow even the “crowd of sorrows” or “dark thoughts” to be treated honorably. But allowing a guest is far different than handing over title to the house. Eventually, I’m sending them on their way – after they’ve brought back the furniture, of course! ;-)


  7. Don’t forget those chenille marks that marred our faces after those naps! LOL

    That’s why one of my cousins always pulled back the bedspread. She wasn’t about to be seen in public with those terrible imperfections!


  8. This reminds me of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. In the beginning of the book he describes the oppressive heat so convincingly that one reaches for a glass of iced water. You’ve managed to put me in the same state.

    Wonderful how you toyed with our senses till we thirsted. I’m wondering how may others felt the same.

    Our foliage is beautiful now. I wish you could see it and feel our cool nights and moderate days. This is perfection. I wish it on you.


    Your wish has been granted. A front is easing through, and we’re at 54 degrees. Once things clear out it’s going to be a perfect, moderate but coolish week. ‘Bout time. We don’t have much in the way of pretty foliage, but I did notice some of the Chinese tallow are beginning to turn. Their burgundy is pretty.

    I’m just tickled beyond imagining I was able to give you even a “taste” of hot, humid and oppressive. When I finished the piece I thought maybe it would “work” (as they say) but you never know. Funny you mention McMurtry. There were points I felt like I was herding words, and some of them were pretty recalcitrant. But this post was satisfying in a different way, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.


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