My Moveable Feast
Note: By metaphoric extension, the term "moveable feast" was used by Ernest Hemingway to mean the memory of a splendid place that continues to go with the moving traveler for the rest of life, after he has had the experience of it and gone away.
An early evening walk with my husband, right as the sun was setting, was one of my favorite things to do when I lived in South Florida. It may not sound exciting, but when you live in a beachy little vacation town, everyone knows the real action begins right after sunset. That's when the pirates come out and sit in their lawn chairs in front of their open garages and drink and listen to music, the smell of seafood and BBQ permeates the air, and more importantly, the lights come on. The atmosphere is festive and full of the promise of a good time.
Our preferred neighborhood walk was in a small historic district that backed up to a waterway teeming with wildlife. It was common to see herons or storks fly overhead or watch flocks of ibises in yards rooting for insects. The area had that quintessential "Old Florida" charm, with many homes being nearly a century old and each one having it's own unique personality. There was regal Spanish Mediterranean, colorful Key West-style, Craftsman bungalows, and handsome Ranch-style homes from the 1950's. It was a walking feast for the senses, from colorful paint choices to the smell of the water - a sensory overload in the best way. An added bonus was that nearly every home left their drapes wide open, like they were giving a free home tour to each passerby. And something about seeing a home's interior from the sidewalk, a completer stranger's home, held an air of mystery to us in who lived there. We had some great (often hilarious!) discussions, my husband and I, on who we thought lived in each one. It was a creative exercise that never got old.
While each home was different, they all had one thing in common: the fearless use of color and abundant lighting. There was one home that was a particular favorite of mine because of the enormous pink glass chandelier - almost identical to the one here - that hung in its living room. The walls were a pale blue and adorned with colorful, vibrant art and the furniture appeared to be a mix of vintage pieces. I speak often of the need to be inspired - this was an inspirational home. Years later, we would paint the walls our own shotgun style home in different shades of blue to mimic shades of blue in the gulf and used uplighting for emphasis. We did it for one sole purpose: so that when our drapes were open in the evening it would look like you were underwater. We enjoyed when couples walked by our home slowly and wondered if they were doing what we often did - just wanting a little inspiration before returning their own home.
Fast forward seven years later and we are living in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California, more 3600 miles from South Florida, and living a completely different lifestyle. There is snow on the ground (in April!) and walking the neighborhood in a mountain town is challenging, to say the least. Downhill, easy, uphill, ... not so easy. Our home is almost completely obscured in huge pine and cedar trees and it's forty steps to climb just to get to our front door. Homes are well hidden here, for the most part. There are no regrets for where we are living now and I'm grateful for the four seasons and the life we've created. Still, I think it's important, especially now, to reflect on memories that give you warm fuzzy feelings. And, to honor your past.
So, to the people in that little neighborhood and to those out there that light up their homes and leave the drapes open in the early evening for a little while, I want to say thank you. Thank you for letting us in to allow our imaginations to wander and dream. Thanks for the memories.