Windows and Staircases

The East window of our bedroom at the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill looked out on a lawn crisscrossed by walkways paved with Kentucky limestone.  These paved walkways were laid by the Shakers, part of their actions based on belief that one should implement change if it made life better for the community.  Paved walkways met this requirement since they not only made walking easier but the cleaner paths also eased the housecleaning burden.

This window gave us a distant view of the horses in their pen at the far edge of the Village, just short of the new highway which has been rerouted to bypass the property.  On most mornings we walked there to greet the horses before breakfast, and at least one of our group brought them apples from the sideboard at the Trustee’s Dining Room where we ate each morning.

Sunrise was a glorious event each morning during our visit.  The birds woke us with their singing so that we came to anticipate the sunrise with its golden light breaking through our East window.  The condensation on the window panes, which likely would have been frost just a few weeks earlier, glowed with the golden light of the sun as it rose above the fog nestled in the shallow river valleys to the East.  Most mornings, Billie could be found knitting in one of the Shaker rockers in our room as she listened to the birds singing their welcome to the rising sun.   This beginning is good preparation for the coming day, whether for a day of work in the Village or for a day of touring the countryside.

Breakfast was served for our group at 8:00 a.m. each morning in the Trustee’s Dining Room.  This building has twin spiral staircases which were a fascination to us as we waited for breakfast in the lobby.  I spent some time photographing the stairs, trying to capture the symmetry of the twin spirals but never quite succeeding because there wasn’t room to “get outside the picture.”

Fortunately I had a 16-mm wide angle lens which allowed me to include more of the view than would have been possible with a normal lens, but I found myself wishing for an even wider view.  I kept shooting images from every conceivable angle, hoping to capture the essence of those staircases before our time at the sideboard was announced.  It must be a commentary on relative values that even the fascination with these spirals couldn’t be allowed to delay breakfast!

During our visit we encountered a group of photographers who were participating in a workshop in the Village, and many of them also tried to capture the beauty of these staircases.  Long after we had gone to the breakfast sideboard, they continued to go up and down these spirals, seeking a unique angle from which a perfect image might capture the magic of the symmetry of the stairs.  Thinking back on this experience, I’m reminded of the “journey versus destination” conundrum:  which is more fun, making the images or viewing the images?

And the answer is…   Both!

About Tom

Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Appalachian State University.
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One Response to Windows and Staircases

  1. Lucy says:

    the first sentence of this post could be the opening for a novel, or maybe a travel memoir. fred is right. you should do a book 🙂

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