It’s February, so thoughts naturally turn to travel, escape, adventure. But I’m not going anywhere at the moment, so I look harder, stare longer, at local scenes, hoping to squeeze something new and startling out of familiar sights. But walking or biking around town, craving some inspiration from a jewel-box of a front garden, is more often an exercise in frustration than inspiration. In low-rainfall climates like mine, where gardens are in use year-round, they are frequently concealed behind walls, hedges, fences. This is an ancient impulse, in thrall to instincts dating back to the first riad. (See The New York Times images of some of the riads of Taroudant.) Here at home we’ve gotten into the habit of referring to our house and garden as “the compound.” Not in a crazy sect sense, but in the sense of sanctuary. Like the ancient riads of Morocco. The word itself is Arabian for garden. So to everyone whose high walls prevent my enjoyment of your luscious gardens as I pass by, I get it. I really do. And I should, because I’m working on my own riad too.
Dar al Hossoun, Taroudant, Morocco
Simon Watson for The New York Times