It’s my responsibility to walk the dogs every morning, something I’ve been doing for years. Other than keeping an eye out for other dogs that might create a ruckus, and picking up the poop, it tends to be a time when I’m thinking about what’s ahead for the day, or else my mind just wanders. Some days it’s a pleasant way to start the day, and sometimes it just seems like a necessary chore. Awhile ago, I decided that it would be a nice habit to notice something about nature each day. It might be the light or cloud formations in the sky, how the low morning light shines through leaves or makes the dew on the grass glisten, or the sharp shadows on cloudless days. It could be an interesting bird taking flight, or a ladybug on a leaf. Sometimes it’s the smell of flowering trees (the scent of lilac carried on the breeze is one of my favorites.) The changing seasons shows in the cycle of trees: budding, flowering, full green, fall color, bare branches. Even though I take the same route most days, there’s always something changing or new to notice.
I was recently in Sarasota, FL for a brief get away. Besides the renowned balmy weather, sugar white sand beaches and clear, warm Gulf sea, Sarasota is also notable for it’s wealth of mid-century modern architecture, and even a few contemporary gems worth a visit. During the 1950’s, Sarasota was a center of creative energy for modernist architects testing out new ideas. Paul Rudolph, one of the masters of American modernism, got his start there. His expansion of Sarasota Senior High is an iconic example of the period. While the design was critically acclaimed, it was not well received by faculty and staff at the school who complained that the design was not well-suited for an educational complex. Recently renovated, it provides a reminder of the idealistic vision of the time.
Currently on display on the Ringling Museum grounds (a worthwhile destination in it’s own right), is a replica by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation of the 1952 Walker Guest House, designed by Paul Rudolph early in his notable career. Conceived specifically for the subtropical Florida climate on Sanibel Island, the original is still used as a guest house. The residence was named one of the most important houses of the twentieth century in a 1957 survey of "Architectural Record" readers, along with Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson's Glass House.