Gifts from the Ghost
Whatever your life brings to you, respond with creation.
– Elizabeth Gilbert
Thanks for all your wonderful comments about the transformation of Casita Alegria and the ghost story that accompanied it. Your insights inspired me to close this allegory with an expression of gratitude to the ghost.
Being a neurotic perfectionist by nature, I realize now that I spent far too much time obsessing over every tiny detail of the remodel, as well as overreacting to the playful escapades of the invisible presence that kept me up at night.
Faced with the ghostbuster’s demand to stay out of the casita for three weeks to allow removal of the ghost, I turned my attention from inside the old adobe’s walls to the outside.
A Blank Palette
The adobe’s garden offered new opportunities and a blank palette for creation, which lifted my spirits. However, the landscape looked empty, forlorn and neglected from every door and window.
But I now had no excuse not to address the desolate space surrounding the haunted and forbidden adobe. What am I going to do with this place? I thought as I walked the perimeter of the thick cocoa brown adobe walls with pale green doors and windows I didn’t dare look into.
Good Design Repeats Itself
When I sat down on the diminutive stone patio and looked at the tall gray telephone pole and ugly electrical lines that snarled across the splotchy grass below, my heart sank with dread.
But then I remembered the principles I believe in. I feel strongly that the inside and outside of a home should connect, not only through doors and windows, but through feeling. I vowed to make the garden reflect the character and spirit of the newly renovated rooms repeating the same architectural elements, colors, shapes, textures and playful patterns.
While walking the property, I came up with a plan to define and create outdoor rooms. Each of these spaces would have a specific purpose, and a focal point to draw people into the garden.
I imagined a curvaceous banco with lots of pillows and a small round table that enticed from under the pear tree to eat breakfast, read a book, or serve chips and margaritas to evening guests.
A few steps away, I envisioned a large dining table with multicolored dining chairs under the shade of a colorful umbrella. It would seat four for dinner or accommodate a garden party of eight with smaller chairs.
Fire and Water
Next, I saw the perfect place for a kiva fireplace at the back corner of the adobe, with a banco extending from its side for relaxing while enjoying a fire on cool, high desert evenings. The functional architectural element would anchor the overhead rectangle created with vigas, beams and corbels, and the resulting arbor would support flowering vines to shade us from Santa Fe’s brilliant and almost daily sunshine.
Then I turned to visualize a soothing, splashy fountain in the garden across from the fireplace adjacent to the dining area. I ultimately found a three-tiered Mexican fountain edged with tiny carved flowers. The more levels a fountain has, the more sound the water makes as it falls. Fountains not only fill indoor and outdoor spaces with sound and movement, they moisten the air and create focal points that beckon people outdoors.
In Casita Alegria’s garden, the original low perimeter wall provided little, if any, privacy until it was raised from four feet to six feet. A few years later, to our good fortune, new neighbors moved in next door and built an eight-foot coyote fence against our garden wall. We were thrilled with the added privacy, rustic texture and sound barrier the thick wall and tall fence provided.
The front door of the adobe sits under a portal that displays the same vigas and beams as the adobe’s interior and new arbor. After trimming low-growing branches on the magnificent blue spruce, we lined the outside of the pathway below with the same river rock used in the back yard. Then we planted fluffy lime green ground cover inside the pathway, which softened the adobe’s linear face. Two white planters with red flowers stand at either end of the casita’s shady white walled portal to welcome guests.
So much of the garden’s transformation was imagined, created and begun during and shortly after the ghostbuster’s time spent clearing Casita Alegria. I not only appreciated her efforts, I remain grateful to the ghost whose presence sent me to live at La Posada and focus my attention not only on the garden, but on the mysteries of life.
The ghost in Casita Alegria confirmed a bigger picture of life to me. I had always wholeheartedly believed in this concept, but I had never experienced it quite so directly as living with a deceased spirit. Thanks to the ghost in the blue striped suit for affirming my long-held belief. My hope is that he, too, is experiencing new opportunities and a blank palette for creation.
With gratitude to all,