By John Sammon – Carmel is quaint, charming, a forested vision, but also a desire in the mind, a striving for ordered, landscaped perfection, sloping downward on the side of a hill toward a breathtaking visage of the Pacific Ocean.
How could I describe Carmel?
Start at the top of Ocean Avenue off Highway 1, the main street, looking down a tiered, steep road that would be a perfect slalom ski run if it snowed in Carmel, which it hardly ever does. This is a village. It’s called a village.
Since many of the homes here are built like mini castles of the Elizabethan Age compete with tiny turrets, one could assume Carmel is a village like in Ye Olde Merry England, or as in Camelot.
If Carmel is like an old English village, then a village idiot would have to be a mud-encrusted, moronic foul-smelling scoundrel in Medieval rags drooling at the mouth who accosts you while begging for a Tuppence or a Farthing. I’ve walked all over Carmel and never encountered such a person, so there must be no village idiot in Carmel.
There are two kinds of people in Carmel, locals and tourists. Locals tend to walk down Ocean Avenue in expensive designer clothing looking straight ahead and appearing seriously focused, like they know where they’re going. Tourists on the other hand are seen gaping with wide blinking eyes, like they’ve never seen any of this before. They often have cameras draped around their necks.
Because of this and numerous crossing pedestrians, Carmel teaches you patience. Hey if the place wasn’t beautiful, it wouldn’t be so popular.
The architectural style of the wood, brick, and stucco white-washed businesses of the downtown, many with red tiled roofs, represent a charming mixture of Spanish, Mediterranean, and King Arthur’s England influences that might be described as Euro-Cromwellian-Hispanic-Mission-Italianate-Rustic-Chic.
The forest dominates, the wonderful trees, the pines, making you feel you’re in the mountains. Carmel residents love their trees. Be warned. If you bump into a tree with your car, and drive off without leaving an insurance note, you can be charged with hit and run.
The neighborhoods are hushed and with such ordered, perfect yards. There’s a hedge carved in the shape of Clint Eastwood. How did they do that? An army of hired landscapers.
Many of the homes are miniature Hansel and Gretel type cottages with designer rocket or square-shaped chimneys made of expensive flagstone, rock or brick.
It’s so quiet here.
Not a sound except the rustle in the high trees. I love Carmel, and though I don’t actually live here, I feel it’s a part of me anyway. The ordered serenity, the opulence, we’d all like a little bit of that. After visiting, I think maybe I’ll cut down those unsightly weeds in my front yard and hang a decorative sun figure on the fence.