On this trip, I’ve had a wonderful series of heavy wooden shutters on my hotel windows. And I’ve made a point to use them. (Anne and I have an electric louver in our Seattle house…and on this trip I realized why I don’t like it.)
To open and close a classic European shutter, you need to get physical. You reach way out, struggle with the clunky hardware, and pull them one at a time. They lumber slowly around, shutting the outside world away with a prison-door clank. They are painted so many times the louvers no longer work. Hurricane-strength hooks fitted to heavy stone walls batten things down.
With shutters shut, I never know what a new day will bring. I don’t even know the weather. But each morning I enjoy the ritual. I swing the shutters open…and with sunlight filling my room comes promise of another day, carbonated with people and learning.
I guess lots of shutters means I’m staying in the old centers of towns that care about the architectural harmony of their streets.
While the building interiors come with all the modern comforts, the exteriors are loyal to the past — stout, layered with paint, and ornamented in a way too impractical for our efficient world.
From Umbria to Andalusia to the Dordogne to Bosnia, I was opening and closing venerable old shutters. And — even when there were no shutters — each day began with an “open the shutters” ritual. Like a happy yawn and stretch, push open the blinders and embrace a new day.