Friday, April 27, 2012

A cup with a view...

Sauvie Island April 2012

Do you have a favorite window with a view of a special place? A spot that you can land after you brew  a cup, sit in the quiet, and breathe in the steam circling from the lip of your cup? I have many. Did I mention that you can have more than one? In Portland we rely on windows to decide our wardrobe. For many of us, it is the first thing we head to when we wake up in the morning, so that we know what to wear in the event that it is a downpour, overcast, or sunny.  And in cloudy Portland, we depend on windows to let in light. Growing up I had a window seat in my bedroom that faced the street. The window was enclosed within a series of dense wisteria branches. I could fold myself into the window seat, under the wisteria and watch the rain, spot friends and head out for a play date, or gather all my dolls into a big heap to keep me company.

I have other favorite windows that are not my own, but that I consider my favorite. When I went to visit my grandfather I would sit on his couch and look out at the Portland skyline. When he was going to move, I remember thinking about how much I would miss that view. To my surprise (and delight) he found an even better view of Portland and Mt. Hood in his next home. In San Francisco I have three favorite views. My godfather has a living room that is glass from floor to ceiling. Everyday he wakes up looking out over the entire San Francisco skyline, and at night the city lights up like fireflies. My cousin has a view of the entire Golden Gate Bridge from his living room window, and our friends that live in Presidio Heights have a large window overlooking the city, the bridges and the water. It is the first thing you see when you walk into their home. Thanks to the dense San Francisco fog, you have to be in just the right place, at just the right time, to catch these views at their best.

In Pendleton, when it is so hot the air is still, we have a favorite hotel that sits on the highest ledge of town. From the balcony window you can gaze out at the gold and brown landscape that extends as far as the eye can see. At Cannon Beach, I have fond memories of sitting with Aunt Gai, her window overlooking the beach and Haystack rock. When we visit family in Ontario, the view from Mike’s living room window takes your breath away (my grandfather’s favorite view). Most recently, this past weekend, I was out on Sauvie Island, and the window in the kitchen looked more like a garden painting, than a window with a garden on the other side.

I grew up watching the world go by outside my window, be it in the car (driving through Montana, Idaho, Malheur, California, etc.), on the plane (looking down over various cities around the world), or portside (from my small cabin window on the ship). These windows are similar to a television set, but better, because they are always changing. No one “show” is ever the same, and you gain a different perspective depending on where you are– you grow new eyes.

Windows allow the outside to come in. I have never grown up with blinds–none of my neighbors have them. I find it quite comforting to see across the way to glowing windows, my neighbors preparing dinner, or waving from inside as I walk by. These open windows often invite me in. Countless times I have been mid-step in a walk, when a neighbor pulls me inside for a cup, and a story (blinds and shades would have made this exchange impossible). So as you brew up a cup, go sit by your favorite window, and if you don’t have one, go borrow one–you never know, it just might become your new favorite view.

This cup is for George (the only window that truly brings the garden into your kitchen)
And for Rod, Brent, and Hope (who gave me the best views of San Francisco)

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