Portal: an entrance, a doorway, a threshold.


My first foray on the Camino led to many thresholds. Walking an obscure section of one of four historic pilgrimage routes in France, I traipsed past chateaus and hamlets, endless globes of hay and moody cows, country roads and fields of sunflowers scattered across vast swathes of farmland. After heading south for seven days, I rested near the shrine of Saint Bernadette and early the next day veered to the north of Burgundy to visit friends. Finding train service to be more limited than ever, the next best option proved to be the unfamiliar world of car-sharing, safe and seamless but a necessarily two-part journey.


Passing by a photographer’s studio on my three hour layover in Bourges, once a sizable medieval pilgrimage center of its own, I spotted a postcard he’d made showcasing dozens of jewel toned ancient doors throughout the town. Inspired, I fished out a euro or two and slid the image into the side pocket of my turquoise pilgrim backpack.


When I arrived at my next destination, and for the remaining weeks of my trip, my eye began to be drawn to all these incredible expressive doors hidden in every town. Each with their own character, and a history unknown to me, they felt as alive with their secrets and worn beauty as a wrinkled woman with a sparkle in her eye. And it dawned on me, I have always intuitively searched out portals as a photographer — doors and windows, gates and tunnels, shutters and alcoves. Thresholds man-made, who quietly speak to us of thresholds otherworldly.


What lies on the other side / step back a century or ten / worlds unfolding / as portals shimmer / from within and without / whose time are you inside / are we more outside of time than we know

Janelle Bighinatti

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