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Pleasant Ramblings: If These Walls Could Talk

by / 0 Comments / 19 View / June 10, 2015

Mark Magnan

A few years ago, I came upon a house out all alone in the country, situated on a corner of a narrow paved road and a dirt road leading between a couple of large fields. Across the paved road were more fields, either ready for crops or just yielding their fruits. There was a lot of high grass around the house, dotted with small flowers, but enough to add some color. The house itself was obviously abandoned, how long I was not sure, probably for quite a few years. The roof looked like it would keep most of the rain outside. There was still a splash of color on the trim around the doors and windows. The stucco seemed to be in fair shape, and had a good solid coloring as well. It looked like the house could once again become a home, perhaps with a bit of work.

The photographer in me looked at the scene and went to work. I shot quite a few shots, different angles, doing what any good photographer does, trying to catch the right light and hide blemishes. I was lucky that day, the light was great, the grass just right and a scattering of fluffy clouds.

When I later looked at my shots I picked one and had it printed. It became one of my favorites, and actually was well liked by some friends. A few of those prints were given as gifts. I still have my original displayed, it also is shown on my digital frames with many of my other shots.

I would like to say either I was very skilled or very lucky, but honestly it was a combination of both. I had a great day for shooting, and a very pleasing scene to work with. In a way this is what artists and photographers live for, those great times.

Recently I was in the same area again and decided to take a trip out to the house. It was a different time of year this time. The grass was not growing yet, the flowers were not gracing the yard as before. The house looked a bit worse for wear. There was an old tree adjacent to the house that had fallen down. The house looked a lot more worn, but mostly because it was not framed with the life of the grass, flowers and fields of green.

I set myself in what I thought was the same position as I had been in the last time and started to shoot. I worked my way up to the house. Now I am very respectful of people’s property, however this place didn’t seem to mind if I looked closer. As I walked up to the porch I noticed the two front doors were nearly shut, one held closed by a security chain. There were windows on each side of the pair of doors, the furthest window was open. I walked that way to take a look inside.

About the time I approached the open window a rather large bird went flying out, just in front of me. Now this startled me, I was not expecting anything of the sort. Even though I was quite surprised it didn’t take me long to identify the bird as a barn owl. My next thought as I watch him fly away to safety was that I didn’t have the proper camera lens to shoot the escaping owl.
Looking inside there was still furniture, and even an old TV set. Perhaps this was just a selection of old things that didn’t make the final truck load as it left the house for the last time. So that started my mind to thinking about the family that once lived there.

Given the age of the house and style I am certain that the original occupants have probably passed on. But why was there furniture left inside? Did the last inhabitant have to move, did they pass away, or did they move to a nicer and newer house somewhere down the road? What stories did the house have to tell? What fun things did the children do both inside and around the outside of the house, in days absent of our modern electronic distractions? How many wonderful meals were cooked in the kitchen? What foods were gathered from the area just around this place that made up those meals, meats and vegetables farmed from the same soil as was tracked in on the shoes each day?

In those days I am sure the house saw the happy births of children to the family and perhaps a death or two. What memories of this home were carried away by the people that once lived here and made this part of their family? Where are they now, and how often do they think about the old homestead?

I have a connection with the house now as I am watching it age, I will check on it again. I am curious about the family that were the life of this structure and made it what it was, not so much as the decaying building that makes a fairly unique and appealing photograph.