Saturday, October 12, 2013

Welcome at the back door, or the front




     My backdoor is not noticeable from the driveway. Visitors ring the front door chimes.
     For many homeowners, however, the back door is the entrance that everyone uses all the time like an old familiar shoe worn down at the heel. It’s a wonder why there is a front door at all, except that it pulls together the overall architectural design.
     Upon saying that, my backdoor is strictly for my cat’s comings and goings through his small “Harry Potter” pet entrance using his magnetic collar.
     You see, his neighbor feline friends can never figure out how he does his disappearing act. They will come to visit their buddy in his backyard, and after awhile, Dickens finds it uncomfortable and prefers his own space. He escapes into the privacy of the house.
     A neighbor black cat with a friendly disposition so wanted to follow Dickens into the house to play that he “body slammed” into the Plexiglas cracking it enough to need a replacement.
     Believe me, I had a very interesting telephone conversation with the sales rep for the manufacturer of the pet door explaining this accident. He loved the concept of the magic of the door, and promptly sent me a replacement for no charge if he could use my quote in an advertisement.


     One summer evening as things were winding down from a hectic day, I heard the cat come barreling through his door with his tail stiff and erect.
     No sooner had he flown through his Plexiglas flap door that I heard commotion on the back porch. It was a three- year old bear cub checking us out. He put his large paw up on the cat’s door, and low and behold, Dickens mirrored this with his tiny paw up to match on the inside.
     Fortunately, the bear lost interest in the cat and went after some birdfeed we had accidently left on the porch in a metal pail with bungee cords holding it together. (Bear can be very ingenious in opening containers I would say.) Dickens withdrew further into the house, and I retreated along with him. No photography that night.


      As a kid I walked home from school, and I would fly in usually finding my mother in the process of making a pie. Whatever she was doing, though, she would stop to listen for a few moments wiping off her hands on her apron and putting down her paring knife.
     The day I brought home my first book to read all by myself was one of the grandest arrivals that I ever made through the backdoor, and I would bet that I made it slam really hard so that my mother would notice my diva entrance.


     Recently, I went to visit a jewelry artist in her studio in a huge barn at the back of her property overlooking a beaver pond. I was a little confused looking around trying to figure out which was the entrance, and even more embarrassingly, if I had the right day to meet her. There were no lights on that I could tell. I thought that I would try the closest door-the back door.
     Well, I was in for a very lovely welcome by not just my friend, but another visual artist as well who wanted to share his magnificent paintings relating to his Native American heritage.
     I spent a couple worthwhile hours conversing with them. We sat together talking about plans for more gatherings in the winter to refresh and rekindle our artistic selves. When I left through the back door and up the hill, I knew that I was meant to be there. It just felt right, and I was contented.


     When I was a young girl I went in and out of my aunt and uncle’s house not really paying attention to which door I was using. Often it would be the back door. My cousins and I would find it the more convenient entrance to get a drink of water or snack after outside play.
      When my whole family came over for Sunday dinner, we would use the front door. Ringing the bell, we would stand on the concrete porch in our best outfits waiting for someone to welcome us.
     My aunt hired a lady to do cooking and general household duties, but I never noticed until I returned home from a college break that this family helper only used the back door. Once company was in the living room or dining room, she never entered the room. Apparently, she set the table and arranged the flowers before folks all arrived. 
     When our family came there, my mother always put her head into the kitchen to greet the cook and ask of any news about her children. Her comings and goings were from the back door unobtrusive and quiet.
    

When my aunt’s mother died, the cook and her husband came to pay their respects, but it was to the back door that they stood in all their finery. The living room was crowded with people, but I happened to be in the kitchen at the moment.  I will never forget that image, and the picture stays uncomfortably in my mind to this day.
     In the grander scheme of things I can never figure out why it really matters which door you use in life as long as you keep the right loving attitude.