Familiar View

In Film, Inspiration

There is something particular about a vista. On a primal level we humans have long been drawn to the compelling beauty and possibility of a view.

Coming through mountains on a car ride and finding a picturesque valley revealed around a bend we inhale and take in the view. On a trip to the beach, I suspect I’m not the only one who no matter how long the drive, or how late our arrival, has to walk to the beach the first night – smelling and hearing the ocean aren’t enough. I need to see it’s expansiveness to feel I’ve arrived.

Part of our attraction to a sweeping view may be hard-wired into our DNA – a desire to know what’s coming for us from the distance so that we can avoid being taken unawares. Or perhaps it’s roots are spiritual, stemming from a deep desire to know more than our small piece and to see the future.

Windows frame our views, and tame them for us. We see our familiar vistas from the comfort of home, and may over time come to take them for granted – looking right through them. But siting and architectural purpose align around a few of our windows, and those tend to get the lion’s share of our distant gazes and daydreaming.

This one is mine. In the 17 years we have lived in our home, I have surely spent more time looking at and out this kitchen window than all of the others in our home combined. Fortunately for me, the view is the most pleasing one in the house. It faces our yard, and due to a gradual slope and the position of neighbors’ houses, I am able to, for instance, right now, see a pastel wash of color out the kitchen window – all manner of pale greens, some yellows, and lots of pinks and whites from flowering trees and shrubs through a block and a half of other yards – their distance collapsed by my kitchen window into a postcard of spring.

The windowsill collects and rotates a still life of our life: fresh flowers, little growing things, the kids’ science experiments. If a thing needs a little sunshine or attention, it likely ends up here. Because another fortune of this window is its alignment with morning light through the front door in darkest winter and the last gasps of late light it catches. I wouldn’t have thought to pay attention to this when we bought the house, but in the years since I have said my quiet thank you’s countless times to the unknown developer who sited our house just so.

My view is about to change. In a few weeks we’ll begin a kitchen renovation that will double the size of this back window and possibly provide enough storage that my overhead rack becomes obsolete. I am nervous about the chaos to come, excited at the prospect of a kitchen to built to my personal specs – I will not miss you peeling formica and broken, irreparable mdf cabinets – but I am so glad to have a such an extensive record of the particular way this particular view has held my attention for so many years.

Keep your eyes wide open and enjoy your views,

Debbie

7 Comments

  1. You are a wonderful storyteller. I love the intimate nature of windowsills — almost like shrines. Good luck with your renovations!

    • That is such a fine compliment, Lucy! Thank you. And coming from one who knows her stories, it’s especially sweet.

  2. Wow – this is just lovely. I love the idea of returning to the same place over and over, to see and experience something different or the same. I also LOVE this set of photographs, especially the one used for the title banner. So gorgeous! I’m mildly obsessed with the light that streams into our house through the front windows:
    http://www.photosbychinwe.com/in-shadows#/id/i11499625
    http://www.photosbychinwe.com/in-shadows#/id/i11499639
    http://www.photosbychinwe.com/in-shadows#/id/i11696004

  3. Can’t wait to see your new kitchen and your new view! Please take photos of the whole process, I’d love to see.

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