This is part two of a series of the old barn on Muddlety Creek. For part 1 please visit the link below.
Looking over the rubble of the old barn brings to mind how temporary this world is. I’ve had this line of thought concerning this barn for years. When I was younger the wood was still straight, the seams were unbroken and there was still a little natural color in the grain. By the time I took up the lens I could tell that one day I’d be looking at it on the ground. As humans we build some things that seem to defy the flow of time but most of what we make will slowly fade away. Wherever we make something we impart our lives into it. Whenever I do portraits I like to include a shot of just the hands. Our ideas and thoughts may direct our actions but it’s our hands that do the work that changes the world. It was hands that sustained the hunter/gatherer in early history. It was hands that tilled the soil. The grand megalithic structures were all built by hands. And it was hands that built the old barn.
Because our lives are finite and tied to the moment we live in the only thing that we own is that very moment. When someone makes something for you or chooses to spend time with you they are truly sharing their most valuable resource of time. Some people look at an object like that old barn and see only rusted tin, rotten wood and the abandoned residue of civilization. But there’s so much more. The hands that yielded up the time invested life into the experience. I was blessed to encounter an older gentleman who actually had worked in that barn for the owners. He didn’t really talk about the misery of hot humid July and August days when the hay would get into your shirt and make you itch. Or the indignantly of mucking out a stall. What he remembered was the relationship he had with the owners. He was a hired hand and he mentioned that they paid well. He also spoke of what good and kind employers they were. But what really stuck with him was the feeling of value they placed on him and the community around them. His exact description didn’t really stick with me but the look of love on his face was unforgettable.
Perhaps it’s this investment of lifetime that explains why we cling to the a past that we can never hold. Old buildings and such provide a temporary store for the intrinsic value of time and energy that brings forth something tangible. The tangible object is anchor point in the flow of time and in some ways provides a way for us to navigate through all the possible outcomes in order to reach the next goal.
The family barn is more than just a place where we store supplies and do work. The one room schoolhouse that my family used as a barn was equipped with a basketball hoop. Although learning how to dribble a ball on the warped floor added a whole new dimension to any game played. If the winter day was mild enough a game of “barnball” could be played. Aside from the almost random direction a ball might bounce when attempting to dribble there was the double bank shot. That’s when you bank the ball from the ceiling and the wall to make a basket. There’s also a corner pass where the ball is passed to one’s self by bouncing it from the corner before doing a lay-up.
At this point I think I’ll conclude the recap of the old barn. I’ll miss visiting it but as long as I have the photos I’ll hear the echo of her quiet farewell for the rest of my life. And while the proximity of this site to the marsh makes me doubt that anyone would build a new barn in this same spot I do think that the days of the family farm will return and just maybe I’ll find a new barn to catch my fancy.
Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.
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