Monday, November 14, 2016

Mystery Behind the Gates

It takes a while to get use to the fact that one is not trespassing when wandering through the tiny passage ways of our small village. Voices babble out of kitchen windows, the funny old sound of an accordion song on the radio floats through living room windows, the crackle and pop of something delicious cooking up for lunch wafts up the alley next to you. Intimacies of village life that are literally under our noses. Passing by one feels almost too intimate with the stirrings of the household and the turn of their daily activities.

In contrast to the close quarters of parts of our small village there are grand homes that stand back behind imposing entrance gates. 
When one first moves to a small village you think it will take mere days to get to know all the neighbors. Yet there are a few locals that remain mysterious, hidden behind those heavy, usually closed gates. Getting to know the people behind these gates and eventually actually moving through the entrance of iron and stone takes some time.  After weeks or perhaps months of recurring “bonjour encounters” in the bakery, one finally moves beyond conversations about the weather and engages on a more personal level. Eventually, an invitation to visit is extended. 

The first time one passes through those grand gates it feels scary, exciting, and like one has been granted a high honor. Some of these entrances are perpetually open, not even guarded by ancient doors or heavy gates. But for some reason they still have the same imposing air that gives them an aura of someplace aloof and special. Now one is getting to enter into a world set apart from others. Entering into a world that is going to divulge more secrets about our village of Bourdeilles.

By the time the invitation is offered one’s imagination has concocted all sorts of ideas of who is behind the gates, what is behind the gates, and stories of life behind the gates. It turns out that some of my imaginings have been sort of correct, but, truth be told, I have yet to meet a knight in shinning armor, a princess sleeping on a bed of roses, queenly rooms trimmed in gold and lined with mirrors, nor Madame and Monsieur being served high tea by a butler with maids scurrying around in black and white uniforms.

What I have discovered instead is the consistent simple country charm of Bourdeilles. No one is here to put on airs. These homes are treasured either because they have been in the family for generations or because they were purchased to fulfill the dream of living quietly, privately in the country. Yes, you can let the tune of Green Acres run through your head.

In these photos I try to capture a bit of the wonder that one feels upon entering the grand space created by those imposing gates. It’s a amazing what a little thing like a theatrical entrance can do to get the imagination going and how that imagination creates and holds onto exaggerated ideas no matter what the reality is. 

Even now, a few years into having permission to “stop on in” whenever I want, a feeling of grandeur and a sprinkle of fairytale magic washes over me each time I enter into these “simple” country homes through those imposing gates. Here, too, the households have their turn of daily activities, but they are embellished with a golden splash of imagination by those of us peering in.

No comments: