I suppose if I had to name the greatest invention of all time, it would not be the wheel. But the door. It, alone, wouldn’t have led to the Industrial Revolution, but it issued the greatest metaphorical invitation of all time. Or the greatest shutting out. Depends on how you look at it.
Here, in our small French town and round about, there are such invitations at every turning. Barn doors. House doors. Secret entrances into meter-thick stone walls. Great wrought-iron affairs leading to tree lined drives and often shuttered-for-the-winter chateaux. But my favorite, at least today, are the small, waist- or chin-high garden gates that open onto courtyards, fields, alleyways, or just “some other space.” Modest. Rotting. Rusted. Neglected. Worn wood graced by a porcelain knob. Some wedged between cinder block walls, other between pillars grander than they are—they are all beautiful to me. They beckon, don’t they?—”come in, no, stay out, well, look but don’t touch”—but not with confidence. They murmur under their breath, most of all: “Maybe.”
[If you enjoyed this post, you might also like “The door within the door,” another one of my door-obsessed observations, this time from Milan.]