Letʼs not close the door on my self-indulgent essay about Janetʼs home décor preferences and choices until I get to what I really wanted to talk about when I got started on Thursday afternoon (which is when I am finishing this post as well, as I got called in to sub on Friday). You learned a little, as a little was all I really had to say, about the door in the corner of the bedroom. Now we need to introduce the one that sits outdoors.
First, I should stipulate that we donʼt decorate for Halloween. I know that dates us clearly, as younger people seem to think everything after the Fourth of July is all about Halloween. But Janet likes to prettify and festoon on a seasonal, rather than a holiday-based, pattern. She does do Christmas (although we are not a house with acres of outdoor lights, even when I have tried a few some years), but that only lasts from the day after Thanksgiving through New Years. Period. And some/most of the Christmas stuff pretty easily changes into generic winter décor. Further, she generally decorates outside more in the spring, summer and fall than winter. The door is seasonal for spring-summer and for autumn.
Now in the summer months the door is really just a pleasure to us alone, for it (like the three feet of white picket fence) resides against the chainlink that constitutes the boundary of our back yard. I suppose that interested shoppers in Gasserʼs side lot could crane their necks and maybe catch a glimpse of the doorʼs peeling whiteness amidst the greenery. But I am pretty sure none do. Even I find it uncommon when down there to wrench my head aloft and peer up at our back yard and the long line of chainlink fence that tops the twenty-foot wall up to our properties, looming unheeded over and behind the commercial establishments.
Janet dislikes the chainlink fence. Rightly, as it was very poorly installed; to the west along our neighborʼs yard it literally tilts at a 45° angle away to the north. When weʼre bored, The Lovely One and I place bets about how many months it will take until the ugly and ill-engineered thing collapses (right now I have eighteen, but heavy snow and a wet spring could undermine that number**). The mowing team Gasser hires to clip the grass along their side never bothers to trim at the fence line, either, thus ensuring a rangy crop of ugly weeds right along the barrier (not that I completely blame them; that metal stockade chews up more trimmer line than I would like to realize — and I am not trying to make a profit when I mow the lawn). So Janet hates the linked-chain thing, and she will do anything to cover it up — thus the series of spreading bushes we have planted (and I have already told you all about) along the northern property line. And her yard-long bit of white pickets. And the door. In the summertime, she decorates the door with metal butterflies and other objects dʼnot-art acquired at one or another of our three local dollar stores (emblematic of the economy hereabouts, thank you not so very much, corporate-coddling, regulation-abandoning, inept Shrub Administration). So through the summer the door looks onto our dismal perspective on corporate hardwareʼs rear end, but also blocks some of that unwanted view.
But when the leaves begin to fall, she indicates itʼs time for me to unwire the cumbersome door and move it out in front, where, as pictured here, it opens onto a tree trunk. As the winds wail strongly up here on the hill, we have to tie the door down somehow or it blows over (as pictured above a bit, that means bungee cords, currently in colorful Boy Scout shades of gold and blue, around the tree trunk). The door now hosts some seasonal curiosities, as you can see. In other years, she had a little hay bale that sat at the foot, which we preserved for use for many autumns. A strange crow creature has also sat in the window — like the scarecrow creature now — or on top. Usually, like this fall now, the door has been garlanded with strings of (plastic) autumn leaves. It hasnʼt always been placed against the easternmost ash, I believe, because I think I can remember it being both on the maple in the middle and even out on the western ash back before we had neighbors on that side who might (or might not) be annoyed at Janetʼs idiosyncratic and creative tastes in exterior yard enhancement.
She likes to put the door face on, full front, to the street (although I personally prefer it at an angle), as it currently is. And she loves hearing from people (often Methodists on their way to church or home from there) about how unusual, even startling this door that leads nowhere is. Eye-catching. Some, like Dr. Bill, enjoy kidding her about it, but as Picasso said (and I repeat in the performance), “Really, it doesnʼt really matter whether they criticize you or praise you, the important thing is to be talked about.” I have always assumed that the purpose of home decorations is to stimulate that conversation about you. And about your yard.
One constant about the door is that its condition keeps changing — and not only in moving around the yard seasonally and from year to year. The door itself is changing. Since the deteriorating paint job makes it “scenic” in Janetʼs view (and thatʼs no criticism, implied or overt, whatsoever), the door, exposed to sun and wind and rain and frost and even snow a few times, has debilitated and enervated, weakened and fragmented, cracked and even decomposed since we acquired it. Its weatherbeaten appearance keeps on getting moreso, raising the interesting question of how long weʼll be able to keep it around. And the more challenging issue of what weʼll do with it when she doesnʼt want it as a decoration any longer. Do you think we could donate it to a theatre group maybe?
** In utter, actual honesty, the story of our betting is a lie, an invention, a fiction. I should have said, “we could place bets…” but I wanted to put in the detail about how long I think the fence will last. (You just canʼt trust writers who want to publish fiction…)
Perhaps among the numerous topics I have suggested so far this year for me to tackle later (most of which I have forgotten) I should include an exploration of the dicey relationship between reality and illusion in writing, whether fiction or nonfiction.
Do click any of the pix for an enlargement.
(Can even I believe that I got nearly 2500 words out of two old doors? Sorry that you read all that?)