Passageways: Breaking through to the other side by Janine Donoho

Snow gateWhile hiking in the snow today, a freestanding gate materialized from the mist. Not intended to protect livestock, this was another silly human attempt to restrict access. It clamored “mine, mine, mine” even as deer, coyote, and bobcat prints infringed on its periphery. My response? Gateways offer a way in—a transition between this side and the other. In other words, a call to adventure.Alhambra

EgyptWritten transitions elicit the same sense of excitement for me. No, I’m not talking about those boring, yet necessary, expressions that unify your opus via “and, whereas, because, yet, immediately…” Yawn. I’m more interested in the movement between one action and the next, which eventually develops as conflict, plot, and story arc. Those, I want to be dynamic, elegant, and somewhat imperceptible.

Now back to corporeal entryways. During international journeys, each culture’s approach to either invitation or deterrent fed my curiosity. Thus I’ve filled albums, both virtual and concrete, with photos of portals between one space and another. What insights I’ve gained animate my writing.Malaysian gate 17

Essaouira, MoroccoSo enjoy this visual of portals. May they rouse your inquisitiveness and make you want to explore what’s on the other side. Our efforts as storytellers aspire to invite readers in, after all, and travels to the other side can enrich that experience.GatesMoroccan doorCasablanca

Gates by Janine M. Donoho

Ornate with Chinese influence
Often gates are physical barriers.  Gates and attached fences serve as devices to exclude, imprison, warn off, intimidate and stake claims… Well, you get the idea. Sometimes they act as invitations. Either way, gates serve as transitions into other spaces. For me, gates impose the ultimate shift between what we know and the extravagant unknown.

Does ‘Keep Out’ come to mind?
Opening gates, whether physical or figurative, allows you to move between one side and the other. Nowhere did this become as concrete as in Malaysia. There you’d often find a gate attached to a wall, then be faced with electronic entry. Often a sentry reinforced the barrier. If you happened to be in a condominium, separate gates guarded each personal vestibule and multiple locks protected final doors. Within a single family home, internal rooms might be defended by separate bolted doors in case of a break-in. Really.

Huge estate with serious gate
This proved remarkable to someone living on a mostly natural 20 acres. We’re surrounded by Ponderosa forest and sagebrush steppe. Since this is cattle country interspersed with open range, barbed wire makes a strenuous argument for staying on your side of the fence, too. With fondness I recall wooden ladders over harsh obstacles. Not here, though.

Wooden gate over
barbed wire
The most obvious local gate equates with a cattle guard. Yes, some locals bar their driveways for purely exclusionary reasons. Such practice and attitude gives me misgivings. However, I’m not pure. Main gateways into the ranch can also impede seasonal hunters, allowing us to live lightly on this wildlife refuge.

Metaphorical gateways cluster around events like birth, illness and death. Social ones include graduations, weddings, and religious ceremonies. These events elicit wide ranges of emotional responses.

I find myself at just such a  juncture now, poised between do-I-stay or do-I-go. To progress toward that answer with me, I invite you to meet me here again for GATEKEEPERS.

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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