|Bathing in my garden at night|
|Pietra dura inlaid marble fountain pool in the Red Fort in Old Delhi, India|
When you enter the harem quarters of a Maharaja's palace in India, you enter a world built for pleasure. Fountains cool the air, while hot water and steam heat the baths. In Turkey and surrounding countries, and in Morocco, the Hammam is where many people go to bathe publicly, lacking such amenities in their homes. You can lay on a heated marble slab and have all of your old skin scrubbed away in a thick lather. Then you melt in to a puddle. Its wonderful. Portland should have hammams.
|Inca Hot Springs, Cajarmaca, Peru|
Hot springs pools are one of those things that I would have bubbling up in my garden if I were granted 3 wishes. We have some of the loveliest hot springs on Earth in the Pacific Northwest and I make a point of visiting them when traveling in other countries as well. So the idea of taking a hot bath in the surroundings of my own garden, which I modeled on Indian palace harems seemed rather essential to me when I built it. I think hot water is one of the World's great luxuries.
I learned to love claw foot bath tubs because I am 6 foot 2 inches tall and I can fit fairly comfortably in a large one. When I bought my house it came with the original clawfoot tub. When I bought the house next door I put one in there too, and spent two years surrounding it with a tile mosaic of undersea memories from snorkling and diving trips in S.E. Asia and the Galapagos Islands. And then I put a tub in the garden, with a beautiful stone wall encasing it, so now I have 3.
|Undersea Tile Mosaic in my bathroom|
Its early October in Portland as I write this. Last night it was drizzling and cool. I went out in the garden and lit candles in a mixed assortment of Moroccan style lanterns and drew a hot hot bath. I like it hot enough that it hurts a little bit when you get in, and then you relax in to it. I can stay in longer that way. I have a hot water tap plumbed to the outside of the house, next to the cold water spigot. I buried a black rubber hose connected to the spigot that is rated for hot water use that runs under the gravel terrace to the tub. The overflow is sealed so that you can fill the tub deeper.
|The Clawfoot Bathtub in my garden in Spring|
On this cool night I slipped in to the piping hot water. I have fountains that sound like trickling streams built in to the walls and a raised pond that sing to the garden. Steam rose up from the bath through candlelight flickering through colored glass panes. The experience was so exotic and magical that I flashed for a moment on some Disneyesque Ali Baba scene planted somewhere in my memory. Cleopatra's Baths, in my back yard.
|Cleopatra's Baths at Heiropolis, Turkey|
Cleopatra's baths had a couple of busloads of Russian tourists in them when I was there, floating around and magnified by the water to look sort of like Manatees. The water is blue green, with the toppled columns of an Apollo Temple destroyed by an earthquake submerged on the bottom. Talk about fantasy landscapes, its the stuff of dream sequences in exotic films.
|Pool at the Jahaz Mahal in Mandu, India|
At the ruined city of Hampi in Karnataka, more to the south in India is the Queen's Baths, a massive MC Escher like tank with crisply cut steps radiating in graduated rectangles. It is utterly surreal to behold in this Utah like landscape, but it ensured that the Queen got her bath, no matter how dry it has been.
|Queen's Baths, Hampi, Karnataka, India|
One of my favorite royal bathing experiences was in Sri Lanka in the early 1990's. There had been heavy rains and some flooding, and the ancient ruins at Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Mihintale, and Polonaruwa were filled to the brim. The refreshment from the heat and humidity in these cool and elegantly framed tanks bordered on divine.
|Bathing Tanks in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka|
|Tirta Ganga, Bali|
What makes all of these places so special is that they celebrate water and the pleasure it brings.
|Pink Camellias are abundant in Spring|
|A 6 inch wide Ephiphyllum blossom hanging over my bath tub|
A varigated Porceline Berry Vine laces through it all with pink tendrils and with no two marbled leaves alike. I put a plywood cover on the tub when I'm not bathing and put a lounging bed on that strewn with nice pillows, so the tub becomes a divine place to recline. Laying down in the garden is second only to bathing in it.
|Lounging bed on top of the bath tub|
|Martina and Mirabella in a rose petal bath|
The steam swirling through the candlelit lanterns makes me sigh relief and let go............................................