Barns & Building Character

I first posted this barn as a part of the Lingering Look at Windows – they really stand out because they are new and bright and shiny.

Hidden Lake 002-2

Here are photos of some of the architectural details that give this barn, and a couple of other out buildings, that character so many of you said you love.

Hidden Lake 013Hidden Lake 023

Chicken Coop?

Chicken Coop?

I hope I am aging with character instead of just falling apart. But this got me thinking about what differentiates the two. When I look at this barn, I find character in the many details. There are many details in the design – which is probably also true of people. The more interests we have created and the life paths we have followed create character as they accumulate and form our life tapestry. They add richness to our life story. This applies to our emotional life as well as our physical. We need to care deeply, even if it means getting hurt sometimes. Do our loves and hurts show up as character in our face, especially our eyes? When we look at people with character we begin to wonder about where they have been and what they have seen and what life music they heard through the years.

These sliding doors are salvaged for home use.

These sliding doors are salvaged for home use.

Old buildings with character don’t have changes for cosmetic reasons. They may be maintained but changes aren’t made to make them appear as what they aren’t. The windows on this barn stand out because they don’t fit – they aren’t authentic. For us humans, in our culture that worships youth, it is hard to stay authentic to what we are. We are pulled to cosmetic surgery, to dye our hair, and dress in young fashions to keep ourselves looking young. I want to age with integrity – but sometimes I waver. I remember a conversation with my friend Trudy, who is long deceased. She was bemoaning the fact that her hands were ugly, all spotted and veined. I had been noticing how beautiful they were, how much character they had. Now as my hands are aging and I sometimes fret, I think of Trudy’s hands. I hope that someday my hands will be as beautifully aged as hers.

Hidden Lake 021

Old buildings with character are used buildings. They show the signs of use. They have nicks and dings and warn spots – kind of like the Velveteen Rabbit. Have you ever noticed the difference between new furniture that is made to look warn and authentically warn furniture? The warn-through-use furniture has character. We need to use our human bodies for them to develop character. I work hard to protect my body and to respect it but I also can’t live on a shelf. I want to do things and go places. I need to live on the edge – within the reasonable bounds of what my body can do. We can tell when people lived too hard a life and their bodies age prematurely. I don’t want that but I also need to continue to get out there if I’m going to have the nicks, dings, and warn spots that says this is a life well lived.

Julie has a very interesting image of this barn that you can see by clicking on this link. Julie is just entering the blogging community so give her a warm welcome! I also suggest you follow her because her photos will be worth seeing and she has the soul of a philosopher.

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27 Comments »

  1. Fantastic post and beautiful images! I just love old buildings as they have so much character and character is something I appreciate in people as well!

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  2. Enjoyed your post and especially the analogies. The barn images are great, I love that last one, a nice bit of atmosphere! Keep on getting out there and collecting the nicks and the dings of a life well lived! Oh, and your post has reminded me that I was going to post a few images of the deserted village, I’m part way there…

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  3. Great post Pat, I really like how you brought your images and words together. Appreciating age related changes as experience markers is an important frame of mind – but I am not giving up coloring my hair for at least a few more years. 🙂 I don’t mind my older looking hands though because they remind me of my mother and grandmother’s…

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    • What a wonderful comment to my post. Aren’t we funny creatures. I gave up coloring my hair a long time ago because it got to be too much of a chore and/or too expensive. I have known many women who have died at a a very old age without a grey hair on their head. You keep it as long as you enjoy it! And I’m using my spot remover. 🙂

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  4. Loved your post! Young people seem at times to like the trendy and new to go with their youthful bodies. Do you think as we age we find more purpose to the old because we see what you wrote about? Too bad as a culture we didn’t put more value in people and things that have aged well!:-)

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  5. I love things with worn character and that show the patina that only comes with years. Like when you pick up an old hand tool and the wood is smooth as silk dented to the fit of your hand. Like you say, the character comes with use and it’s fixed where it needs to be for usefulness. Aging with grace seems to me to have much to do with being ready to respond to opportunities and share the things you’ve learned and that you have become. It’s having the right muscles to lift others up or to readily lift the corners of your mouth in a smile and crinkle your eyes in laughter. A young woman can be beautiful in the perfection of her features and unspoiled proportion, but she will never beat an older woman in capable and confident glow. (Beautiful photos!)

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  6. wonderful post pat, the barn photos are beautiful, it is easy to admire, as are some gracefully ageing people … your analogies are spot on … i am with you, let us hope our character shows through as we grow older so we shine with the patina of a life well-lived and loved 🙂

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  7. This is a wonderful and thoughtful post. Beautiful sentiments shared with fabulous photos that speak for themselves. : )

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