A Celebration of Fenestration

The Latin word for window is “fenestra.”  The old English word for window, “eagbyrl,” means “eye-door.”   Just like a door, it can be used for peeking out…

…or peeking in.

Whether you are looking in or out, there are so many things to see, just behind the glass.

The earliest windows were holes in a wall.

Narrow slits, to let in a bit of light with the cold air or to shoot an arrow through.

The ancient Romans were the first to use glass.

Then came windows of animal horn or hides, cloth, and in the Far East, even paper.

The Inuit people say, “Don’t let the window of your home be so small that the light of the sun cannot enter.”

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said people are like stained glass windows.   They sparkle and shine when the sun is out…

…but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed.

In the Ukraine they say you don’t really see the world, if you look only through your own window.

And what a world there is out there to see!


There is another old saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”

…and one that says a smile is a window on your face to show your heart is at home.

The world on either side of your window can be sad…

…distant…

…daunting…

…and scary.

All the more reason to let the light in.

Let your window’s light shine like a beacon…

…and reflect upon the beauty of our world.

All the windows of the world!

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow.

72 Comments

  1. The Latin word for window is “fenestra.” The old English word for window, “eagbyrl,” means “eye-door.”

    And the Irish for window is ‘fuinneog’.

    In Ireland it is a tradition that if someone dies (especially if they died at home) you must open a window all night, to let the soul out of the room.

    1. That is so interesting. Do you speak Irish Gaelic, J.D.? When we were in Ireland, we listened to the Gaelic radio stations, just because we loved the sound of the language, so lilting and musical.

      1. Yes. Although I hardly ever use it to be honest. Irish was and still is mandatory in Irish schools. So by the time you were 12 you had at the very least basic Irish.

      2. I’m so glad you can speak and understand it. My Native American grandmother was Lushootseed, and it was so sad for her to see “the most beautiful language in the world” losing more and more of its native speakers–mostly only the elders speak it. She worked with academics to record her language, and create an English-Lushootseed dictionary. I’m thinking they should have made it mandatory in all the Puget Sound schools, or at least a taste of it, as it was the language spoken here long before English.

  2. What a windowful post! My first thoughts were “the window screen was invented in the 1860s but wasn’t widely used in residential housing until after WWII”…which is what I repeat all summer to museum-goers as flies land on the food we prepare in our Old World Wisconsin houses. 😉

    1. I really enjoy your fun facts, Scilla. When I first came to Seattle from Michigan, about a hundred years ago, one of the first things I noticed was the lack of window screens. It’s not that they didn’t have flies and mosquitoes, but they didn’t have enough to bother with screens. So I decided to come and live here forever. But I am a Michigander at my core, and I still have screens on all my windows.

      1. I always loved the term “Michigander”…reminds me of “musikander”, from a German song I learned at camp. I think it translates to “odd one”. 🙂 (oh, I’m full of fun facts today!)

    1. Hi Lesley,
      Your comment cracked me up. The French is more of a Romance language, and the English has more Scandinavian and Germanic influences. I thank you for your visit, and for your wonderful perspective!

  3. Oh I love these, and the idea of looking out at the world through so many different windows. Because the Ukranians are right. If you only look out your own window you miss so much!

  4. You’ve outdone yourself, Naomi. What a complete presentation about windows from the past and in the present. I love all your pictures but am especially engaged by the cats in the window. Silly, I am, but I love cats. A thought provoking post. Thanks you for sharing. I learned a thing or two here today.

    1. Thank you so much, Tess. I tried to figure out how to include the photo of the cat that I didn’t use in the post, especially for you, but I guess I’m a one trick pony, and only numbers showed up when I tried to post it here. But I’ll do kitties for you soon, and include it. Thanks so much for your visit, and your encouragement.

  5. What lovely pictures. I was impressed with the window dressing, didn’t know cats were in fashion this year. 😉

  6. That was a masterly post, Naomi – up with your best in every respect! I enjoyed learning about the old English concept of the “eye door” – that resonated with me on many levels – and made me laugh, because EllaDee, in a comment on my Window post thought it likely that when we moved into caves the first ‘to do’ project would have been to make a window – an eye door indeed!

  7. Another wonderful post, Naomi! I blog sporadically, but whenever I log in, I make sure I catch up on all your missed posts.
    “Let your windows shine like a beacon…” sounds more like a metaphor indicative of the windows to our own self… to our soul.
    Among many others, I loved the photograph of the smiling kid (with a turban) at the window.

    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Mona. You are so intelligent and thoughtful–I hope you start to blog more often, as I think you have lots of good things to say.
      I was hoping folks would see the metaphor–not everyone always does, but like any story, it can work on several levels, and there are pretty pictures to look at.
      That smiling kid is my daughter Bea, who was happy and squeaky clean, fresh out of the shower. We were staying in a tiny little cabin way up in the mountains in Norway. She is a kid whose happy soul shines, and you can see it in her eyes.

      1. Thanks for those words, Naomi! By all odds, I will try to write frequently.
        Bea looks bright and lovely!

  8. And for a celebration of defenestration, go here:

    http://www.metaphorm.org/works/defenestration/

    One of my favorite books is A Pattern Language — sort of an Architects’ Desiderata and Manifesto. Your window post reminds me of their chapters on doorways, gateways and windows… I notice you have no picture windows looking out onto sweeping panoramas. A Pattern Language explains why.

    1. That’s interesting, Megan. Can you give me a hint about the panoramic views? I’m curious, because there were a couple of shots I could have used, but didn’t think to.
      I followed the link, and found the defenstration art, which I appreciated. I had been tempted to do a post on denfestration, but I didn’t have a photo of the famous window. Three haughty officials of the Hapsburg Austrian empire came to try to force the Bohemians to elect a Hapsburg king and were unceremoniously thrown out of the palace window. All three survived the 70 foot fall, some say because they fell into a dung heap. The incident triggered The Thirty Years War.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate the visit.

  9. I think you outdid yourself with this one Naomi 🙂 Beautiful, beautiful shots and what’s left to say about your narrative but thank you 🙂

  10. I love the way you weave it all together, Naomi- your lovely family, the wise words and your beautiful illustrations of them. Wonderfully done. 🙂

  11. Wow, Naomi! This is by far my favorite of your blogs to date. Absolutely magnificent! And what a world there is out there to see, indeed! Thank you for letting us see through your windows!

    1. Hi Shimon,
      I too think it is the light (and shadow) that make a photograph or a painting interesting. Thank you for your visit, and for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Thank you, Tina! I originally forgot to post any title at all, realized my mistake, and had to come up with a title QUICK. So five seconds later, voila! A Celebration of Fenestration!

    1. Thanks, Amy. What is it about windows that is so intriguing? Maybe because they are all so different, and I can’t help but wonder what is just behind the curtain!

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Thank you for stopping by! I have been taking photographs since I was a kid–mostly for fun and my own enjoyment, and then to share with my family. On every family trip, or sisterly adventure, I am the one behind the camera. Now I am loving the fact that blogging has provided me a new way a to express myself, to convey a thought or a story using visual aids, which is so different from the storytelling performances that I do–in which stories are told using only our voices, bodies, imaginations. It has been a lovely way to revisit all the places I have been, and the trips I’ve share with the family.

    1. Thank you, Meg. Something there is about a window… I am looking forward to hearing about your trip. I KNOW you took lots of photos, and I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s