Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Folks Who Live on the Hill

Looking over the precipice 1500' up:  Mesa Verde, Co.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's masterwork, Hill House, Helensburgh, Scotland.

Fall is always a little melancholy don’t you think? And I hadn’t really thought of it until just this moment but so are house museums because they’re not doing what they were meant to do, to be alive with people living in them. This past summer I visited where ‘The Folks Who Live on the Hill’ used to live, two house museums. One is actually called Hill House and the other, well the other was way beyond what you would think of as a house on a hill, the cliff house(s) of Mesa Verde. So in the way of a harvest for something that developed in the summer we will now take in some of what Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Anasazi of present day Colorado cooked up. Seemingly so far apart in every dimension the more I look at them and think about them the more they have in common to me. It’s a little spooky.

What you see on the wall outside Hill House.

First view of the house, the Firth of Clyde visible in the distance at right.

Asymmetry from every elevation, a hallmark of Hill House's design.

The massing of forms and shapes defy expectations, delightfully.

Inside and outside views of the main staircase.

Just inside the front door.

Two closer views of the main hall.

Margarget MacDonald's work blends with CRM most everywhere you look.

Margaret's gesso panel above the fireplace.

Detail of Margaret's work.

The Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde, CO.

Balcony House, one of two cliff dwellings I visited.

The Anasazi'’s decision to leave the flat top of the mesa where they had been living, venture over the cliffs, and build in the recesses of the rock remains deeply mysterious. Why they left these dwellings in the late 1200s is also unknown so archaeologists continue to investigate this fascinating place, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I am not especially afraid of heights but climbing out of these cliff dwellings was terrifying. Satisfyingly when you’re out you get that giddy sense of having cheated certain death. Was it ever routine for the natives? Btw our guide for Balcony House kindly informed us before we descended into the dwelling that should you have a panic attack or any other kind of attack that might prevent you from getting our on your own steam a helicopter would pick you up, a $10,000. ride back to the top.

My photo taken in the Cliff Palace.
A  diorama of the the imagined life of the Ancestral Puebloan culture.

One of the ladders you ascend to get out of Balcony House.

Looking down into the canyon, something not to do when climbing up.

A section view of the mesa. The dwelling is the small notch near the top.

There's written and there's verbal too.

A earth view of Mesa Verde. It's slightly right of center.

And tell me, what did you do this summer?

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