Walls & Fences of Taos

When I consider all the places I’ve lived I have to say Taos stands out when it comes to the mystery and intrigue of its fences and walls. I recall an extreme place in Guatemala that had more walls than I had ever seen, Antigua, famous for its colonial architecture. I’ll just guess we can look to that colonial factor here as well. Another way to say it would be Spanish influence. And who knows where they got the idea of needing some privacy? Could be an ancient Moorish thing? Obviously I’m going out on a limb here.

I took this photo the other day around dusk near my house in Talpa. It’s a good example of something you see here often, the combination of the typical coyote fence (made with poles called latillas) with stonework. Obviously the stones came from the site. The effect is rustic, charming, and provides the desired privacy. It appears there is an old adobe wall to the right side of this, set further back from the road.

Here’s an example of an adobe wall affording privacy to a patio. I took this while visiting the historic Mable Dodge Luhan house, a beautiful campus that could easily be the subject of its own blog. I was very excited to see these painted windows, which also add another layer of privacy, one between the patio and the interior space behind the windows. I used these windows as inspiration to paint the glass on my front doors and found it an artistic and easy solution to one of my own privacy puzzles.

I could give several examples where an old church has a walled space around the front featuring this type of gated arch for entry. This photo is from Las Trampas, a historic town along the High Road that connects the highway to and from Santa Fe with Taos, providing a scenic alternative route between the two places. Anyway I like this architectural way of defining the space, not for privacy but just for a sense of formality, a notice that you are entering a significant field of focus.

This is the upper part of the gate into my back garden that provides entry other than through my back door. My house is a very simple and small casita but someone felt inspired to erect this overhead beam to accentuate the gated entry to my private outdoor space. So in its humble way this was done in the tradition of the previous churchyard entry. It gives a different signal than an ordinary, practical gate, more designed to keep out the neighbor’s dog.

Speaking of the dog next door…I hope you can see this one’s eye peeking at me through the fence. If I get within 10 feet of this dividing barrier he feels obliged to become growly and intimidating. Still, we are visually set apart, with just a speck of eye contact, by this coyote-style fence. I enjoy this tantalizing yet definite level of separation. I like the wood, not cut into boards, just taken as it comes from some nearby mountain forest. And that’s the way it’s done here.

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