It’s the Spring Solstice. With it comes the promise of color, light, fresh air and the overwhelming relief to start spending more and more time outdoors.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love the winter. It supports all the creature comforts – cozy sweaters, warm drinks, quality time indoors and invigorating time outdoors. But, when it comes to recreation, there is a world of difference. On one hand, you can shiver on a ski lift for ten minutes in order to zip down the hill in five. On the other hand, you have long afternoons spent wandering through grass and flowers, swimming, barbecuing, and eating outdoors. And there is no risk of exposure or frostbite.
I know we’re not there yet, because March is perhaps the most erratic month of the year, weather wise. But the promise of mild temperatures, leaves on trees, melting lakes, and, eventually, if I squint far enough into the future, lightning bugs (!) – it’s enough to send a thrill through me. As a designer, I don’t think solely in terms of function and form. I think about the simple act of living well. After all, what else is all of this for? My endgame is really to live a happy and healthy life, and to help others do the same.
With respect to outdoor recreation, one of the coolest things you can have in a home is a great entryway. Whether it’s to shed layers of winter wear, or a place to peel off your wet shoes and hang your towel after swimming in the lake, a great entryway is the portal to everything else in your home. It’s like the airlock on a space ship. You transition from the outside to the inside. You unburden yourself of any muck you may have picked up (it’s also known as a mudroom after all). And you head into the comforts of your interior space.
I picture returning at dusk from a day of exploring, biking, or swimming. We feel exhausted in a good way, and ready to relax in a mellow kitchen or a candle lit patio. Then we eat a brightly colored vegetable linguini, with a bottle of rosé or a sparkling pear juice mocktail. This is my happy place.
One of the gifts of spring and summer is that the distinction between interior and exterior space becomes hazy. We can merge inside with outside simply by throwing open windows and doors. We light candles inside and citronellas outside, and let the day gradually and peacefully transition to night. And the best part is the daylight goes down right around the time I’m beginning to wind down physically. In the summer, the longer days seem to really align with my circadian rhythm in a way that winter cannot. It’s a singularly unique feeling to recline on a padded deck chair, in the dark, enveloped in summer warmth, and see the day to its conclusion.
So, although it is actually raining and sleeting outside right now, I know that the world is about to expand around me. My usable space is on the verge of increasing a lot. My world will be far less defined by closed doors and impenetrable walls. Before long, I’ll start looking for reasons to be outside longer, instead of merely dashing out to do a task as quickly as possible. Soon,I will be able to travel easily beyond my usual well worn routes, just for the heck of it, without doing much more than throwing on some loafers and sunglasses.