my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


A Few of My Favorite Views

Last night, the strongest memory came to me, of a house I lived in when I was thirteen, a farmhouse that lasted long enough to finally be located within a small Indiana town.

I was the only one in the family to live in the oldest part of the house, dating from the Civil War. And I dearly loved that room, one of my favorite rooms in my whole life -- because of its sharp eaves, and because of the dormer window that looked out on a tree-shaded street. The room itself was always a bit dark, so the window and its view became a painting at its far end, illuminated by the street even at night.

Other views I've known and loved:

My dorm window at Michigan. East Quad. My experience of the brick, quasi-Gothic architecture favored by American colleges struggling toward Ivy status. Square panes side by side by side, mullions I think they're called. And this window was deep enough to serve as a seat, so I could rest there and read, looking down onto a snow-covered street.

From there, a long wait until my next favorite window. A big bedroom window of an apartment on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle -- with a majestic view of Elliott Bay, the granary terminal, the ferry sliding by on the hour. I truly believed I had arrived -- my first apartment, my first real job, my first real view.

Ah, things change and so does the view. It's telling that I did not have one favorite window during half my twenties, all of my thirties, into my forties. That's a long time.

My next favorite wouldn't be until I divorced in my forties -- and found an apartment in Seattle's Madison Park, on Lake Washington. Again, mullioned windows and this time quasi-Georgian architecture. This time, a huge lake with its floating bridge outside my window. I was close enough to the shore that storms would blow lakespray up onto my windows. Those storms provided my favorite views -- choppy water and high winds perfectly suited my mood.

Unexpectedly, another view: this one from an upstairs bedroom window in which I could lie in bed and look up into trees. A brief interlude, a sweet time in which I watched trees in deep green turn red to gold, go bare and become pale green again. That time is forever in my mind.

Today, my favorite view is not a window. Through a dark hallway, I see a beautifully backlit stained glass window designed for me ... a fleur-de-lis motif. Open that door and all is green ivy against a brickred shed. Sometimes a blooming bleeding-heart. Sometimes rain dripping off skyblue hydrangea.

If other views have been snowy or stormy, this one is peaceful. I'm grateful ... but have no doubt the view will change again. (That stained glass comes with me.)

Today's fragrance: Serge Lutens' Douce Amere, "Softly bitter" with the predominant anise scent in the top absinthe note; other notes are sharply sweet cinnamon, buttery sweet tiare and bittersweet tagette (French marigold). A poignant fragrance; scent for the shadow of a remembered love.


Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Oh man! I almost cried. BEAUTIFUL post! Brilliant.

10:54 AM

Anonymous Victoria said...

There are moments when your writing leaves me breathless. This is one of them.

Speaking of the views, I have always had a view of a brick wall (in all apartments, other than my current one), which I grew to like. I would sit in the kitchen, drinking my tea, and I would observe the shadow and light playing across its uneven surface. I dare say that this contemplation has attained nearly the same level of understanding of my brick wall as Monet had of haystacks (the reason I use this analogy is because I lived in Chicago for a number of years and visited Art Institute where these paintings are displayed nearly on bimonthly basis). If I continued with painting, that would have been my subject matter.

10:59 AM

Blogger Val said...

I terribly miss the view out of my bedroom in our last house. We called it Woodsy House, and it faced into woods owned by Georgia Pacific in western Pennsylvania. Tons of trees of all kinds, a creek you could hear, speckles of sunshine, and a feeder full of seeds which attracted all kinds of birds, squirrels, and our favorites- those small "flying" squirrels. A girlfriend once looked out there & remarked, "if I lived here w/ my husband, I would ALWAYS be pregnant because this view is so inspiring!" I still think of that and laugh, and get homesick =/ Thanks for another beautiful post!

2:44 PM

Blogger AP3 said...

Yes, a very moving post. Some views really are special.

5:53 PM

Blogger Atreau said...

When I was in college I spent so much time at the old library, which housed the geology department. It was such a beautiful building with strange almost hidden passageways I'd love to sit in this secluded section where the only light was through a dark stained glass window and just read for hours there.

7:19 PM

Blogger cjblue said...

I just love your writing, M. You really have a way of making us see how many of your memories are our own, and bringing them right up, front & center. Many favorite views in my life, but the one now that always brings me peace, no matter how awful the day, is the view through the door into the nightlight-lit room of my sleeping daughters.

Amazing how little they get when they sleep.

4:41 AM

Anonymous Laura said...

Lovely post, dear M. Compelling and moving and vivid all at once. As for me, I love the views from skylights---the first (all sky, all the time) from my daughter K's bedroom on the top floor of our house in London, and now, in my drawing studio, where the sightlines are lower,where treetops and sky are pre-framed just for me.

6:14 AM

Blogger WinterWheat said...

You lived in East Quad? You lived in frigging EAST QUAD?? *I* lived in East Quad! Fourth floor, Cooley. We had a great street view too, out over, um, I think it was Church Street, right above the entrance to the Halfway Inn (aka the Halfass). I MUST find out where you lived, and when...

6:21 PM

Blogger WinterWheat said...

BTW, that WAS a beautiful post. I love reading your blog. :-)

6:21 PM

Blogger mireille said...

Yes, yes!! I WAS in RC!!! Now if only I could remember the name of my houses (longer ago for me than for you) -- Hansen? Can that be one of them? HooWah! Good times *if a bit blurry*

6:33 PM

Anonymous weirsdo said...

Beautiful writing. Reminded me to appreciate my present glass wall looking out on almost tropical greenery (glass walls are good, except in the bathroom, where one should wear a bag over one's head).
Thanks for your kind words about The Pansi Files.

7:34 PM

Anonymous neko said...

great post, but it reminds me of how few good views are left in this city.

One of my favorite views is from my Western Universtiy. They revamped the Viking Union adding insane amounts of glass to the side facing the bay. On my way to a meeting, shortly after the remodle, I walk down the stairs, took a turn and was faced with a full unhindered view of the bay at it's sparkling best in summer. It truly took my breath away.

7:25 PM


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