The last month of the calendar year contains the shortest day of the year–winter solstice on December 21st. After the solstice the days reverse direction and and start to lengthen again. It is the moment of passage. The point where what is happening before does an about face. It is also the short walk up to the beginning of the next year. In December I can’t help but reflect on the year behind and wonder about the year to come. I realize every doorway contains a mystery. A doorway indicates some kind of delineation of space, journey or point in time. Often, when you approach a doorway what is on the other side is hidden from you.


William Blake, Entering the door of death

It makes me think about Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey and how passing through thresholds runs through so much of our lives and the stories we tell. As we celebrate the passing of the last month of the year and we ready ourselves to start anew in the new year, the cycle begins again. Our lives are marked by cycles of time in months and years and also of passages through doorways, gates and tunnels–both literal and figurative.


A Buddhist wheel of life

I think of the wonderful story of Persephone who, after forming some attachment to her abductor Hades, willfully eats just a few pomegranate seeds knowing that those seeds will bring her back to the underworld each year–in myth her absence is the explanation for the winter months.


The Rape of Persephone, 17th Century

As in all good mysteries, most doors give something away as to the nature of what is behind them. Grand and tall, you enter into majesty–small and inviting the space likely reflects the same. The doors are the announcement, the introduction into the world that is on the other side.

Gates of Paradise with Bible stories on door panels of Duomo Baptistry, Florence, Italy

Gates of Paradise with Bible stories on door panels of Duomo Baptistry, Florence, Italy

Fittingly, my father recently sent me his collection of pictures of doors. I was a little surprised, as close as we are I didn’t know he had the habit of taking photos of doors. Some photos are old and some just from last year, but why these particular doors held his interest I can only guess. To me, it reads like an essay and I love the way there is a rhythm and a randomness to it. I also love that each of these doors stood out to him in some way that warranted a picture. He kindly gave permission for me to include it here, so here is a *slightly* edited version. I don’t know where and when they were all taken, but I have included captions for the ones I know. Thank you to my father Lincoln Norton, for sharing your photo journal of doors.


Isaac Bell house, Newport, RI


Cambridge, MA, 1968


Church Door Newport, RI


Afganistan, 1969


Doors, 1969


India, 1965


France, Allee


France, 1969


Greece, 1969


Greece, Gate, 1969


Henley, UK, 2016


UK, 2016

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Modern Day Venice

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McKim, Mead & White


Noyes House


Noyes House with Calder

This past year was a good one for me and I feel the usual apprehension as I mentally package and tidy 2016 in my memory wondering what the next year might bring. Just like a doorway hiding the other side, the next year is hidden from me. I imagine what my door into 2017 would look like. Even as I try to imagine the new years gates before me, the time to step through will arrive and the cycle will start all over again.