Bunker Door


On Creeks and Gates

On one of those deliciously hot days last week, I finally realized a long-time ambition and took the kayak down Novato Creek in back of the houses across the street. On this day, I was amazed that no one else was on the lagoon…I had it all to myself. It’s a fairly painless proposition to get the kayak into the creek, helped immensely by a craft that is light enough to hoist above the chest-high chain link labyrinth leading to the creekside dock. At least it’s painless if you don’t slip getting onto the dock. I am in gratitude for the ziploc bag that saved my phone.

I headed down the creek in the unexplored westerly direction. It followed the curvature of Montego Key, my street, passing a series of houses, many of which had boat docks, and some which featured elaborate tree houses. The creekside setting inspired all sorts of landscaping choices, ranging from dense jungles of palm trees to striking sculptures. I found myself trying to set up photos of the creek with placidly undisturbed, mirror-like waters, but a single misplaced paddle would ruin the illusion and force me to start over. Eventually I made my way to Montego Park, which I could only identify by the large pine trees encircling it (which sadly are diseased and are being cut down) and because I had run out of houses. Being in a kayak in a creek is a little claustrophobic…you can’t see over the opposite bank but only the houses on one side. But I saw some interesting sites, not the least of which was a tiny abandoned houseboat next to the creek. Finally, feeling as though I had burned an hour or so trying for the perfect creek kayak photo, I paddled back home in a purposeful manner, recalling a conversation I had with a couple who had paddled all the way to Moylan’s Brew Pub in Vintage Oaks Center, packing a couple of small squares of plywood to navigate the muddy landing place there. Sounds like a plan to me, although familiarity with the tide schedule will likely be essential.

Lately I’ve been noticing gates. Many of the homes here have enclosed an area around their front door (which is often recessed) as a sort of courtyard, with a gate providing access, replacing the front door as the home’s interface to the outside world. As with a front door, such a gate becomes a focal point, with an opportunity to either entice, or pass unnoticed. A well-conceived gate can invite visitors into an intimate outdoor space on their way to the front door, and hit a stylish note as a highlight of a property. And the notion of a gate harkens back to romantic notions of grand estates, where there was a gate to be traversed on the journey to the homestead. Whether rustic or modern, a distinctive gate can act as an attractive “calling card” for a home.

Often, what sets a gate off is its contrast with the surrounding fence and building. The use of a contrasting color, or material, or both, can make a gate stand out and say “come on in.” If a strong style is established by the home and its courtyard, details appropriate to the style can help the gate capture the eye, even as it is designed to blend in with its surroundings. There is no single rule in creating the perfect gate, except maybe walking around and noticing what gates speak to you, and in what way. A wonderful gate can be the centerpiece of a home’s curb appeal.

Real estate-wise, I have to say that things seem to be calming down a bit. The multiple-offer frenzy of the recent past is giving way to a more normal market. Normal is good…it’s equally fair to buyers and sellers. Houses are staying on the market a bit longer. To those looking for a home, patience can be your friend.

Meanwhile, summer is coming and the squeals of delight from children being towed by speedboats on the lagoon are reverberating throughout the neighborhood. Fishermen are trying their luck at the front end of the south lagoon as dogs run gleefully off-leash along the levees and hayfields. This is a great time to live in Bel Marin Keys, and I’m blessed to be part of it.