Two Staircases

 What is a staircase, but a corridor improved by elevation?  Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Simplicity has two interior staircases with very different personalities. Both are crucial to the workings of our everyday lives.  The two staircases do bring up a common point of confusion here at Simplicity. Guests to our home often get lost.  It is not just the staircases, but the number of doors.  Simplicity has so many doors.  Not certain which door leads to where, our guests often find themselves in a muddle, in a place they had not planned to go. Quite honestly, this bewilderment frequently happens with Don and me.

 

On any given day, it is quite easy for me to live my life at Simplicity and never run into Don who is also working from home.  Not that our house is so big, because it is not.  It is all about the staircases.  My writing office is on the second floor. Don’s office is on the main floor off the kitchen.  If I take the back stairs, I can totally bypass the first floor and head into the basement where my painting studio is located.  Hunting to find one another is not an uncommon situation. I must admit that this has led to text messages and emails when we are too lazy to walk the stairs.

 

Of the two staircases, the front seems more formal than the back.  Perhaps because it is located through a French door off the living room.  A steep climb of fourteen steps takes us to our bedroom suite.  With a window at the top and the bottom, sunshine fills this enclosed space. On the long expansive inside wall are framed photographs of our eight grandchildren. In these, the photographer of the house has beautifully caught the essence of each grandchild’s personality. Don’s amazing captures allow one to see beyond the smiling faces into their tender hearts. From the oldest at age twenty-six to our youngest a year old, we marvel at how quickly they have grown, wonder what they are learning about life, and miss their presence in our home. Taking the front steps easily involves my heart. It is not unusual for me to offer prayers of love as I travel this staircase.

 

The back steps, found through a door off the kitchen, open into a very different world.  Some people have said that these must have been the stairs to the servant quarters.  Not likely.  This is a very humble home that in all probability never engaged a single servant.  With the front of the house twenty years older than the addition at the back, this was certainly a staircase of convenience.   When we first looked at the house, the information sheet indicated the second floor as a possible mother-in-law’s living space.  With a separate outdoor entrance to this staircase, the upstairs could certainly be used as an apartment. We have chosen to create a master suite, an office, a guest room, laundry, and bathroom on this floor. Just naming these many separate rooms makes me realize that my fascination with tiny houses will likely never be a living reality.  At best, a challenge to continue to simplify and minimalize.

 

Traveling the back stairs is most pleasurable for me.  After walking up six steps, two small landings invite a rest. The window at this half way point brings sunlight and a fresh breeze on warm days.  How I have fantasized about a bit more room on this landing.  To linger in a chair by the window would be so delightful, but the space only allows a brief stop to gaze out the window.  The final six steps enter the upper hallway, the artery to all rooms on the second floor.

 

When one of our son’s family moved away, I wanted the grandchildren to remember Simplicity as their home away from home.  Every three weeks I would write and send a story or poem about a part of the house. Don would snap the photograph.  The grandchildren loved our two staircases for they were a fun place to play. Going up one set of stairs and coming down the other brought them into different places in the house. A great hide and seek strategy. Toys, puppets, and stuffed animals joined them on the steps and landings. Through their eyes I saw staircases not just as going from place to place, but as a playground and an adventure.

Stairs go up

            Stairs go down

Stairs go places

            Destination bound.

 

Some have landings to pause and wait

            Where was I going? Will I be late?

If I sit here I could play

            With toys and blankets most of the day.

 

Stairs go up

            Stairs go down

Walked in barefoot

            or wearing a crown.

 

Some stairs have windows or photos nearby

           of children smiling, saying HI

Others offer a space to rest

            To wonder, imagine, be your best.

 

Stairs go up

            Stairs go down

They take us places

            From top to ground.

 

Alas, the stairs are part of daily living here in Simplicity, going up and going down, getting lost and being found.

staircase

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