Seen Better Days: Barns

Manitoulin Island, Canada

I was immediately pulled into Tina’s Len-Artist Photography Challenge: Seen Better Days. Maybe I can related because my body has seen better days. I love photographing barns and the barns that catch my attention have changed over the past 12 years. I started wanting to photograph old, falling down barns, then I was more attracted to barns with unique architectural features or color, then I enjoyed photographing working barns, and now I find my favorite barns are those that have character. Maybe that same kind of character I attribute to my body; warn out from years of good use but still serviceable and maybe can be patched up a bit with proper care. These categories of barns aren’t mutually exclusive as I’m driving down dirt roads but as I have gotten more photography time under my belt (that has gotten a bit bigger) I have gotten more selective. Here are some of my favorites from over the years.

Vermont, U.S.
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Down a Dirt Road in Michigan

This next barn was taken this past week as I was going down quiet country roads looking for fall color. I saw the beautiful doors, put on the breaks, and did a U turn. I have been noticing in our travels through Michigan this summer that many barns are getting renewed with this sheet siding. It doesn’t have the patina and character of wooden boards, but it preserves barns for another generation or two.

Love those doors!

After I took the photos I wanted, I had to turn around and there was a drive to another house close by. I was excited because this also gave me an excellent opportunity to photograph the barn from another angle without drawing attention by noticeably trespassing. This barn had truly seen better days before the owners decided to give it some hope for the future. Is this a lesson for those of us who are struggling with the impact of living in aging bodies while our minds are saying, “Wouldn’t it be fun to…”? Maybe it just reminds us to “patch, patch, patch.”

My last barn was chosen just because it made me smile. I don’t remember the photograph and have no idea where I took it. It is dated 2014 and the file is named Amish country, encompassing a large area to the south of where I live. The slight tilt (didn’t straighten with editing) and the architectural features make it seem slightly inebriated. I wonder if Moonshine had been made in this barn at some time in it’s history?

Garden Roof


This roof represents one of my top 25 favorite places in the Naples Botanical Garden. This is the roof I sit under after taking my first 100 photographs. On my normal go-around this is the place, the Asian Garden, that I reach when I am hot, my hip is starting to hurt, I’m getting tired and a bit dehydrated. I look for this roof, and what is under it to sooth my weary spirit.

I sit on a bench, pull out a bottle of water, and smile as I look through the morning captures on my camera monitor.


And then I take some more photos of the landscape around this structure.


Ah, but I can’t forget that this post is in response to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, and her topic this week is roofs. This roof has beautiful lines and is covered in tiles that provide an interesting focal point among the green foliage growing around it.

If you enter these photos for a calming retreat, you will have to provide the songs of birds and a small water fall, both stored in your memory from similar special places with special roofs. There is room on the bench beside me and we can have a fun chat.

Thursday Doors: A Whole Lot of History Going On


I would have a hard time speculating on what this door was used for and why changes were made through the years. I tagged this as architecture, which will made a few people either laugh or say naughty words. Taken in Buenos Aries, Argentina in 2015.

If you have a liking for doors, you will undoubtedly find some with more class by following this link to Norman’s weekly feature, Thursday Doors.


Road Trip to a Memory Farm


For many months JB has been talking about taking a little road trip, just a couple of counties to the west, so I could take photos of the one-room school his cousin Sarah attended, so many, many years ago. We decided to go yesterday before the shrubs and trees are in full leaf – because last time he saw it, it was overgrown. He wanted to show me the school because he knows I like one-room schoolhouses, and he wanted to go see it again because he has a fond memory of going to a special family event there with Uncle Ralph, Aunt Ester and Sarah. Or maybe the time was right to visit it for just one more time. Do we need to do that to find resolution in our minds between what was with what is? Who we were and what we had – with who we are and what we have? Or maybe who we aren’t and what we don’t have any more?

We found our way to N Drive N instead of N Drive S and JB pulled onto the shoulder of the road. There were ranch houses on both sides of the road, except for the large, remodeled farm house on our right. He explains that the garage hadn’t been there, that was where the milk house was. The front porch with the gables hadn’t been there and what we could see between the house and garage had been the passage way to the milk house. The house had seemed further back from the road and there had been a big side yard where he had played on a swing, waiting for Sarah to come home from school on the school bus. Getting to ride a bus to school intrigued him then because he lived in the city and walked to school. I didn’t pick up my camera because seeing the farm house “within” the house we were looking at took a real stretch of my imagination – but JB could see it.

He spent more time looking within his own memories than trying to undo and explain away all the changes that had been made to the house. But then he became more vocal as he swept his arm in a large arch to explain that all the barns and out buildings had been on the other side of the road. I could see them, could image them being there instead of the ranch houses. I could feel the excitement he must have felt when he was able to spend the night at Uncle Ralph’s farm.

We talked a bit about Uncle Ralph and Aunt Ester. JB told me about the orchard he had planted, his cows, how the farm had been on both sides of the road – with a lane that went up a hill that Sarah and he used for sledding. Uncle Ralph had been industrious and hard working – that was what JB was remembering, until Uncle Ralph and Aunt Ester hit the sauce big time. Alcoholism was a big problem in his mother’s side of the family. The alcoholism is his most recent memory of them and maybe he needed to reconciled the later memories with the earlier memories that were so positive and happy and loving.

It wasn’t a long drive down N Drive S until he found the school. The brush had been cleared around it and someone had made some changes to make it into a home, although it is currently abandoned.


I took a few photos, trying to capture JB’s memories. JB wandered around. I was soon drawn to the redbud and dogwood in full bloom across the road. A strong wind was bringing in some rain so I enjoyed the challenge of experimenting with different settings on my new lens to get an interesting depth of field of moving targets.


When I returned from my deep concentration, JB was standing in the middle of the road looking at the old school. I walked over and cuddled up to him, gently commenting on how wonderful old memories are. He smiled and said that it doesn’t matter that the school isn’t as it was. I agree. Sometimes we need to visit places that once created good memories. But what remains from the past is only important for helping us remember the “once upon a time” experiences that have stayed with us and influenced, in some way, who we currently are.

We slowly drove a half mile or so down a dirt road as JB talked about the stream that went though Uncle Ralph’s fields and the really nice bridge that he could drive his tractor across. “Stop, stop, stop – back up, back up, a little more, there it is.”


JB thought it looked like the same bridge. Maybe it is, maybe it has been rebuilt, maybe it is a new bridge built for some new purpose. It really doesn’t matter because in our eyes it is Uncle Ralph’s tractor bridge to the next field. And my prayer for the day is that we may all have a nice bridge to the our next field of being.