Originally published on Google+
Shashi Bellamkonda took this amazing photograph of my magical mystery door when he was visiting our home outside of Portland, Oregon. Here’s the story of the door.
When I was a child, we’d make frequent trips over the Cascade Mountains to visit family in Eastern Washington. Just before Leavenworth was “The Alps,” a small A-frame home and candy store between Highway 2 and Jolanda “Lake,” a dammed lake that pauses the river as it rushes down the mountains towards the Bavarian town of Leavenworth, five miles away.
My father could make friends with strangers in seconds, and such was the case with the Marlins when they opened The Alps early in the 1960s. My parents were thrilled with chance to stop, stretch legs, and let the children use the bathroom. We kids were dazzled and thrilled with the handmade candy, paintings, Happy Rock fairies, occasional batches of puppies, but best of all was the amazing yard filled with magical and mysterious handmade things to play on.
There were the usual swings, teeter totter, and other playground equipment, but what always thrilled me was the sight of the door.
It was just a normal door. A door you might find in any home. It grew a little weather worn over the years but it was just a door.
Most importantly, it was a closed door.
An open door means little to a little girl with too much imagination packed between her ears. A closed door offered mystery. Who knew what lay beyond that door. What adventures, what vistas, what strange and wild people, what path would I end up on if I opened that door.
As I grew older, The Alps meant more than the best fudge you’ve ever slipped between your lips. I’d think about that door and imagine what I would find beyond it. I’d paint great cities, wilderness, vast deserts, huge gardens, strange planets…all unfamiliar and exciting terrains. I’d see people wearing colorful flowing outfits, or silvery tight fitting clothing like I saw on funky science fiction shows.
By the time we arrived, I had the vision of what lie beyond the door clearly in my head. I’d race through the shop and down the stairs to the kitchen and out the back door to the yard, a wave hello to old Mr. Marlin stirring up a pot of brittle, caramels or penuche as I raced by him.
I’d head straight for the door, my hand out stretched, then pause as I felt the cold handle under my fingers.