The sun had emerged, quick and sharp. It seared into the wall, on one small patch, lifting layer after layer of surface tints, from cream to burnt brown; so mottled, hacked, knocked, replaced, corroded that the effect was of a decrepit fresco. It would be a bit of a shame to paint over it now, I was thinking; it was part of the fabric of the building’s history, like the various places in the house where the ghostly outlines remained of old doors that had been bricked up and plastered over. They were a fine counterpoint to the doors that opened into new rooms that hadn’t seemed to exist.
from The Lantern
Sunlight through the catalpa tree, when the wind stirs the leaves and the light is so bright it seems to flash, makes me jump sometimes. Here is the winter light streaming though the kitchen door to glance against the cupboard doors. Cast shadows move in the breeze outside and the patterns wave. If you catch it in the corner of your eye…well, you can see how the over-imaginative mind works.
“Where do you get the ideas for your books?” is a question I’m asked quite often. I suspect that a response of “The kitchen cupboard doors” might prove disappointing in the abstract, but the shifting light and shadows in our south-facing rooms was indeed the genesis of The Lantern and its various hauntings, real and metaphorical.
We love the kitchen in our French house. It’s large enough to hold a long pine table by a shuttered window that faces south into the courtyard and beyond to the blue hills. Two cupboards set into wall recesses, and one on the central island, have doors that clearly originated from pieces of old furniture. The evidence shows they were once devoured by woodworm in various places, which probably explains how they came to be re-used like this. No matter, the charming imperfection is just right for our shabby chic ethos here, and of course, endless food for thought.
Here are the winter shadows from a different perspective. From the outside, when the kitchen door and window are shuttered, there is a tangle of stark branches on the facade. It's part of the magic of this place that it is so different according to the seasons. This bare tree, in summer, will provide dense shade and a cool place to read or drink a glass of rosé with friends.