I am pleased to introduce our guest muse for today, Katherine Lightner. Her beautiful lifestyle photography really captured my eye recently and I am so thrilled she agreed to share a bit more about herself here with us at Mortal Muses. She accepted the challenge to write a piece inspired by our theme this month, “Around Me.” Thank you so much for joining us Katherine….take it away. ~Christy
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“Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw.” ~Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Oxford, my adopted home, is a city steeped in culture and history, famous for its University, its creation of world leaders, and its dreaming spires. Authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, and C.S. Lewis spent many years here honing their craft, inspired by their surroundings.
And it’s also a city that I completely take for granted. Despite my proximity, I rarely explore its cobbled streets, taking the time to notice all the treasures it has to offer. It’s a form of resistance I guess, a feeling that if I’m going to battle the traffic and pay a fortune to park, my trip into the city center needs some purpose, some accomplishment to check off my “to do” list. But people travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to visit this city that’s just a few short minutes down the road. Why shouldn’t I still be able to look at it with that same sort of wonder?
So, inspired by this month’s theme, Around Me, I’ve taken a wander around Oxford with my Polaroid SX-70. As I walked around, what struck me was the existence of a secret world, one that most of us who visit Oxford never see. It is a University town after all, one with over 21,000 students and I’d catch glimpses of students travelling in and out of doorways, doors that the rest of us can’t open. In large part, the doors to these halls are closed to the public, open only in a very limited fashion. I couldn’t help but feel a bit like Alice, trying to get a peek into wonderland.
As I stood in front of the ornate doors of Exeter College, a man walked up and opened them with a key. And I thought, who is privileged enough to get the keys to a door like that? I stole a second glance at the man as he opened the door, his hand twisting a large skeleton key. How heavy that must be on a key chain, the weight of the world it unlocks.
In a world now surrounded by utilitarian doors made of PVC and aluminum, I marvel at the intricacies of the doors around Oxford and I want to learn more. Who designed them? Who carved them? Who takes the time to clean and varnish them? These doors recount an era when fine craftsmanship went into every little detail of a building, these doors an outward symbol of the importance of world on the other side.
My adventures in Oxford this week remind me that I need to take the time out from my “to do” list every now and then to appreciate my surroundings and be grateful for the riches the world has to offer. There are amazing things to be found everywhere, whether they’re somewhere famous or simply 100 paces out your front door.
What secret worlds are waiting to be discovered around you?
Katherine Lightner is an American ex-pat living in Oxford, England. She is a mum and lifestyle photographer with a passion for capturing life’s everyday adventures. She captures these moments with a combination digital and instant film. And, she loves the color purple and sparkly shoes. You can find more of her work on her blog and on flickr.
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