Saturday, October 1, 2011
The Corner of Picasso and Renoir
Our development was built in the late 1970s, and back then, I'm sure the houses were very state-of-the art. In typical 70s style (at least in California), the structure of the homes is very linear, with few windows and very small yards. The front yards have low fences and a little swinging gate, that seem to say "stay out" and "welcome" at the same time. The 70s were a confusing time, so this juxtaposition shouldn't be surprising.
There are about six different models in our development, but they are all similar in that the insides are very dark and cave-like, with many walls to divide up the living space. I joke that our house is a maze, as you can easily lose your way if you've never been inside before. I can picture it the way it might have been decorated once, with green shag carpet and mood lighting.
I know this description doesn't sound very charming! That's what I thought at first too. At the time we moved in, the neighborhood was in flux and many of the homes were in disrepair. The price was right though, so people were buying them up, with plans to remodel and improve.
That is what we have done too, and now I really like our little house. We've painted walls and doors and cabinets and added new fixtures, so now it's much lighter and cozier. The outside got a face-lift too. New paint, with trim added to the windows, new plantings in the yard, and that ugly fence and gate were torn down.
Our whole neighborhood looks so much better now, it's easy to forget its humble beginnings. It has become a little haven of cottages within the sea of newer homes that surround us.
One thing that makes our city special, is our wonderful greenbelt. Back in the 70s (yes, THAT decade again) some enterprising citizens came up with the idea to have a path that you could walk or ride your bike on, that would take you through the entire city without having to share the road with cars. They made it happen and we are all reaping the benefits. It's fantastic really.
Throughout our neighborhood, we have a good portion of greenbelt, with the path meandering around homes, parks, beautiful plantings, and open spaces. I walk these paths almost every day. I love that time to myself, to ease the tensions of the day and clear the cobwebs from my head.
The other day when I was walking, I realized that street signs had been put up along the greenbelt to inform travelers which cross street was nearby. Isn't that thoughtful? Then I was struck by the irony of it all....the beauty of the greenbelt itself, the beauty of nature all around, and the creative upgrades of the homes surrounding me. Art is all around us. Cezanne and Michelangelo would approve.