Sunday, September 28, 2008

Unloved in Autumn Rain

Of all the structures in the landscape, it is the old barns which tug most compellingly at my sensibilities. Forgotten, unloved and forlorn, they stand in their sodden untended fields, looking out across the foggy highlands on rainswept days in September.

This fine old structure is near the hamlet of Ferguson Falls, and the roof is in passable condition, but the barn does not appear to be in use. Boards are missing here and there, the outwardly bulging end wall discloses bales of dusty hay from long ago harvests, and the whole thing is listing dangerously to port.

One of these days, I shall drive by and discover that the old barn has collapsed in a heap of timbers, splinters and stakes, and I am dreading it. I love the old wood polished to a weathered silvery patina and its dry fragrance, the outline of the roof against the sky on a wet day in autumn, the way the whole edifice sings in the wind.

I am becoming an old barn myself, and that may have something to do with it, but looking back over my three score or so years, I know that I have always felt this way about old barns, and my library table bears mute testimony to that with its tidy stack of works on pioneer agriculture and the history of North American barns.

One can't help but be sad about these lovely old buildings, remembering the dauntless pioneer souls who came to this place and built them as a necessary element in carving out a new life in the wild.


Tabor said...

I feel the same about the tobacco barns here that are rapidly disappearing. I think it is because they represent the work of our citizens and a part of culture long gone. They were once filled with loud and happy voices of people who worked the land.

Sorrow said...

Was wondering if you ever read the book " we didn't have much, but we sure had plenty"
photo's of old barns make me think of that collection...
we all lean a little at the

Amberchlopaz said...

It is now honored and loved by you, and through you, us. It is beautiful, and thank you.

Brenda Pruitt said...

Oh, I love photos of barns. Just took one myself last weekend and posted it. Such nostalgia. Another era. Somewhat like me, I suppose, at age 51 and looking at a country that is in dire straits. And old barns, falling down, like a tree in a forest, unheard... Sort of like this country, huh? Just found you. I'll be back. I garden in East Texas.

Livia Indica said...

Don't forget that old abandoned, yet still standing, barns are homes to many wild creatures. They are still useful, just not to humans.

Sky said...

yes, livia is right. there is no telling how many animals have taken shelter in these barns, how many have borne their offspring there. even lovers who find a summer shower instead of sunny skies have taken private shelter. so much has happened behind those silvered boards. so many stories to be told.

my parents' georgia property contained fallen down structures all about the many acres when they purchased it. remnants of the early south stood among the pines - a small home far away from the main house, likely a home to slaves, had one wall and a chimney standing. old barns stood here and there in various states of disrepair. even a family graveyard surrounded by a rusted iron fence was secluded among the overgrown shrubs and trees. these mesmerized my sister and me, and we found ourselves returning time after time to the graveyard and the structure with a wall and fireplace. what is left still commands my attention all these many years later. i want to know more about the life which pulsed there so many years ago.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Cate, I love what you have shared.
My old homeplace is one of the tobacco capitols. It is their main produce. I shared with my son yesterday that when I make my next trip "home" in a week I am taking my camera to see what I can capture. On fall mornings I love seeing the smoke coming out of the barns. Love that wonderful smell.
Can remember it so well as I use to walk on early mornings.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I am among those who love old buildings and the stories they hold. The perspective offered by Livia is an important one, too!

I used to work for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which works to save such structures, particularly tobacco barns, though a program called "Barn Again!".

~Flaneuse in DC

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about old barns -- those huge, open doors gaping like mouths formed into primal screams at having been abandoned. Beautiful, moody shot.

L'Adelaide said...

hello dear one, just a comment to share with you an old barn on the property I posted on sunday stroll...come see when you can, I think you will love it!

blessings to you ***

Anonymous said...

There's something fascinating about abandoned buildings, regardless of age.

As for your question in the sidebar, I would hope you would repost the pictures, or if you delete those posts at least blog the photos again. I liked so many of them and would hate to see them disappear permanently.