Monday, July 22, 2013

Change Week

Photo courtesy Flickr

The neighborhood is developing rapidly. Across the street ten townhouses stands where two single-family structures used to be. The townhouses are a couple of years old, now. The landscape is settling in and the architecture itself is recovering from the shock of assembly.

From a favorite second-floor perch I can see the facade. Through some accident of glazing and layout, an upper window of one of the units reflects in triplicate a warm yellow security light from a building across the street.

That reflection has become a favorite and comforting thing to look at first thing in the morning, evoking the deeply meaningful porch lights of the late Forties, when the Northwest had just emerged from the very real local threats of the Second World War. No one in the Puget Sound region knew when or if the Japanese fleet would sail into the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and the coast had been shelled and subjected to a balloon barrage.

A trip to grandmother’s house often meant a rainy night drive through eighty miles of forest on narrow roads or dirt tracks destined to be highways. Key places in the roads were lighted with kerosene smudge pots, and the rare house, usually a Twenties structure resembling a bungalow, had a yellow incandescent light glowing on the porch. From the right vantage point, such a light could be seen for miles, a comforting beacon on a journey with a forty-mile section of no phones and no gas stations.

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