FOUNTAIN AS MUSE
Sunday morning. Outside the bank of our bedroom windows, the fountain’s splash and play completely encompass the peacefulness of home. Our shy friend, a tiny iridescent green hummingbird is curiously eyeing the droplets arcing into the air. Especially while we are all thinking about water problems in California, enjoying a few moments with the sound, sight and spray of our fountain is almost intoxicating.
Throughout the years we have consistently added to Eye of the Day’s library of books pertaining to gardening, fountains, pottery, terracotta and European antiques. While I was mesmerized by the muse of my fountain, I remembered a book I found for Brent a few years ago: Fountains Splash and spectacle: Water and Design from the Renaissance to the Present edited by Marilyn Symmes. The book traces the history of fountains throughout the world from the renovations of ancient Roman aqueducts to choreographed, computer controlled displays combining light, music, and fireworks.
Photographs, paintings, illustrations, etchings and drawings are so plentiful and varied that even if you only pick up the book to see them you’ll be drawn into reading a few paragraphs like this one:
Water possesses almost magical qualities. A spraying fire hydrant can transform a sweltering city street into a temporary oasis, offering neighborhood children a showery playground as welcome relief—from the dry, hard pavement…the sound of moving water—sometimes a roar, at other times a whisper–breaks the stillness and can provide an aural refreshment on a warm day.
The last photo in the book is the best possible illustration of this paragraph.
Though our water problems have no foreseeable end and we may need to regulate the use of our fountains, the birds, bees and butterflies not only enjoy, but need water to survive and even a few hours a day provide a magical quality. And that’s not just for animals, but for those of us staring out the window on a Sunday morning as well.
Fountains: Splash and Spectacle – Water and Design from the Renaissance to the Present. Edited by Marilyn Symmes. The Smithsonian Institution, 1998.