Friday, March 20, 2015

La Porte Violette (The Purple Door)

When we readied our house for sale in Reinholds, our realtors recommended two things--that we paint over my menu chalkboard wall and that we paint our purple door and mailbox to match the gray-blue trim. I don't think I said goodbye to our house the day we moved out; I said goodbye to it the day we painted over the door. Even Jonah, who refrains from comment on most issues, said, "It looks so sad."

How did the purple door come to be? Other than the fact that I picked the color and painted it. (One of the few things my husband has allowed me to paint. He says I am too creative with a brush.) The purple door was a direct result of our experiences at Moondance. As we would come back to reality from our holiday jaunts at this magical place, I thought about what it was that I wanted to bring back into our everyday lives. The answer was that I wanted a relaxed intentionality. I wanted our home to be a place that reenergized us for the outside world. And I wanted a place where my creative juices flowed. When we first went to Moondance, I was working full-time as a fabric designer, trying to get a literary agent for my novel. Though my kids were 5 and 8, the only activity they were engaged in was Sunday School. Jonah would start baseball the following year.  We still had our evenings free. Meal times seemed a likely way to bring "Moondance" home.

At dinner, we would try out some of the recipes from Moondance, and from there, I would riff with other garden produce. Tomatoes and peppers and eggplant. Oh my! Perhaps that was the time when we started having a glass of wine with dinner even though it was mid-week. In the weeks following Moondance, I would take care packing my lunch for work. I would buy a special cheese and make a salad of garden lettuces and homemade vinaigrette.  I would clean the kitchen after dinner and imagine I was "zenning". We played games in the evenings instead of rushing to turn on the TV. And I prioritized my creative life. Even in the midst of job and family, I knew I had to make room for the important things--the stuff I wanted to spend more of my time doing.

I needed to name this state of being. I needed to remind myself daily to renew my commitment to being in the moment with my family and with my life. I painted the door purple. It said, "I enter into this life and home with intention." When I pass through this door I am reminded of the life I want to have. And even if I move, I can paint any front door purple. I also made a sign for our house that said "La Porte Violette" or the purple door in French. It was another way for me to delineate the experience. If the name Moondance evoked the magic of a holiday, then La Porte Violette reminded me that there was enchantment to be claimed even on a Thursday night when I was lugging groceries into the house after working all day.

When we moved to Arden, I loved the natural colors of the front doors of our new house, which were a quiet green. Frankly, I was scared to introduce another color to the palette.  What if I wrecked the soothing vibe? With my friend Jodi's help, I picked a shade of purple that would blend with the other tones. I knew I needed to do this. Once again, I was the one painting the doors. (We actually have three front doors in Arden). One small hiccough occurred when I accidentally ran over one of the doors with my car while it was lying under our carport waiting to be sanded down. Luckily, Mark was able to fix it because it was a custom size. But soon, we were living life behind the purple doors again. Our new friend Keri bought us Purple Cowboy wine to celebrate. It was her house previously, so I was a little nervous to show her the change I had made. She loved the color and said she thought of painting her new front door that color, but didn't want to seem like a copy-cat. I encouraged her to do it anyway.

I am home again. Walking through my purple door is a gateway--an invitation to be present in life, to engage in a creative practice, to be fully myself. And it is an invitation for those who want to join me. Come on over.


  1. "there was enchantment to be claimed even on a Thursday night when I was lugging groceries into the house" After 911 I will never view a bag of groceries the same way. I had finished my morning bus run and on the way home stopped by the store for a few groceries. While I was in the store people were talking about a horrible crash involving the World Trade Centers. I went on home, walked in the door and right over to the TV, an turned it on just in time to see the second plane hit the the second tower. A half hour later I realized I was sitting on the floor crying, desperately hugging the groceries, glued to the TV. Today, all these years later, I still look at my (now reusable) grocery bag and think of that day, this country, those people who perished (including a very dear friend), and I feel humble, fragile, and very grateful to be alive and living here in this country, this village, this place and time.

    1. Thank you for all your comments, Diane. I would love for this blog to become a conversation--maybe some of that conversation to be held in person. So glad you are back in town for a bit.