Friday, January 15, 2010
For me, the most frustrating thing about being in France is the restraint required to keep me from pulling the car over every day on a country road and walk up to one of the thousands of decrepit buildings, the saddest have for sale signs hung on them like a sentence. I see them looking at me, not unlike the stray kitten on the side of a path. You know the best thing in the world would be to adopt the kitten, shelter it, feed and nurture it. Give it the little love it truly deserves. With the tiny purr in its throat, as you pick it up and offer it a little affection, that its not seen ever in its life. The soft whiskers twitching nervously as you initially pet it and gain its trust. You know that feeling, losing yourself in the round clear eyes, that see’s a perfect world now that its been embraced.
Well, when I see a structure that’s seen decades of neglect, I swoon. I see the proud corner stones that were once true and plumb. The wooden beams acting as window headers for generations of family’s, who during rainy days were sheltered by this house, looking out that window at the horizon, searching for a bright spot in the clouds. That kind of light that streams through the clouds, typical of renaissance paintings. I see the roof line, swaying downward from age, like a plow horse in the fields walking slowly, eternally dutiful to his burden in life of tilling that field.
The front door to me is not unlike that kittens eyes, the ocular to its soul. The patina and rust of the hinges are as vibrant as any campaign medals on the breast of a dress uniform, not as deserved, but just as proudly worn.
I really envision these wonderful neglected buildings, and what I could do to them to not only restore their soul, but go beyond their past glory and stir up the ashes and ignite the fire that was within before. Turn the eyesore into a respected neighbor on that farm road. The potential each one has is truly limitless, keep the patina of the stonework, finely sandblast the refuse of a hundred generations of spiders waste from the beams and woodwork. Rebuild the window sashes and door frames, retile with reclaimed tiles, update the kitchen, the true heart of every house. Redo the mechanical systems, give the structure a modern day jolt of an architectural defibrillator. Then the interiors are a blank canvas, the prism of styles, colors, and furniture are limitless. The concrete sense of accomplishment is one of the things missing in the children today, everything is instantaneous gratification.
Then as you look at that little ball of fur, maturity asks you nicely to take off the rose tinted glasses. You see the responsibility required, other obligations that you currently need to give that attention to. You think of the vet bills, the kitten hood turning into cat hood. Cat hood turns into old cat hood, didn’t you just loose a cat you had for 16 years, hearts still raw thinking, yearning for his offhanded glance at you, him coming in the middle of the night, when ever he felt like it and curling up near your arm. Just close enough to pet, but he’s gone, back into the night.
So you drive by the farmhouse that needs attention, and as you glance and yearn, maybe through half closed shutters it see’s you looking at it in that way, and maybe it warms a little, like the kitten you had to put back on the ground, purring as you left.