Saturday, November 27, 2010

Miscellaneous: Odd Facade

I walk by this row of houses on the way to my son's school on mornings we get up early enough to walk--it's more than a mile each way. They've always struck me as odd. Here, the garage has completely taken over from the front door. No attempt has been made to create a sense of welcome. Guests aren't a consideration. Even the people who live here have been subordinated to their cars. Practical perhaps, but these houses always make me uncomfortable.

Planted along the street are several tall palm trees. I've always wondered if they were part of the development or leftovers from earlier landscaping. I've heard it was fashionable here in Victorian times to plant a pair of palm trees in front of your house and that the plantings were intended as a sign of welcome. I've never been able to confirm this, but I believe it's true because old houses in the area (especially in towns like Sebastopol and St. Helena, and in the older sections of Santa Rosa and Petaluma) often do have a pair of palms in front, usually straddling the driveway, and because in open country, an old house is sometimes discernible a very long way off because of its paired palms. I've seen a pair of palm trees, or just one, at the head of empty lots in positions that make it easy to imagine where a long-gone house once stood.

And so, I wonder about the palm trees that are planted seemingly haphazardly along the street here. They don't seem to have any relationship to the garage facades that now dominate the view. Perhaps they mark the entrances of a line of older houses that once stood along this street. I don't know. But I wonder about it.

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