Old Barns

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I’ve noticed a pattern when I stop to photograph an old barn. I stay on the road because owners get angry, or at least really nervous, when people walk around their property with a camera. Still, I frequently have the owner come out asking what I’m doing. I tell them what I”m doing, but also tell them how beautiful I think their barn is. They melt and we stand a while talking about the barn. They give me a history of the barn and tell me to take as many photos as I want. This is what happened when I was photographing the barn above.

I am noticing a lot of old barns are getting new roofs and having siding boards replaced, or new metal siding put on. What is really sad is when owners tell me that the grand old beautiful barns they own can’t be maintained because of structural or foundation problems. The cost is prohibitive.

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My cousin’s husband owns the next barn and he was telling me that it was built in the late 1800’s and he recently had the foundation fixed. Being a small barn it worked well and he continues to use it to store some of the antique tractors he owns.

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This post was inspired by Nancy Merrill Photography, who calls for photographs of things over 100 years old this week.

Colorful Barn

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I love color and have a hard time turning any of my photographs into black and white. I tried with this one but couldn’t let go of the green grass and the blue sky. And of course the contrast of that very dark cloud that was either coming or going. You will have to image the drama of the cloud because, even though I was there and took the photo when we were leaving the campground on Manitoulin Island, I don’t remember the cloud’s story.

What drew me in about the barn were the traces of what once was. Maybe I felt an empathy with the body of this old barn – I know what it is like to have an old body with faint vestiges of what once was. This came up in conversations with JB a couple of times this week – how much of our long-age bodies has been lost, but also how we don’t feel any different as people than when we were dating well over half a century ago. I look at him and see the young man I found so hot back when we were teenagers. Even when I think about it for a minute or two, I realize that he is all he ever was but only better because he has relaxed and I have relaxed and our main goal is just to enjoy the life we have left.

I smile when I look at this barn because we understand, the barn and I, how important it is to get these sagging, worn out parts patched back together every once in a while. I’m beginning to understand that I, like this old barn, can be beautiful even though I have some titanium patches, need to apply some dabs of color here and there, and have a bit of a sag in places. Yes, I can learn a thing or two from this old barn in all it’s glorious color.

A June Journey Down Dirt Roads

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It is officially summer in Michigan – because it is after Memorial Day. By the tourist calendar summer is June, July and August but my sensory calendar feels a bit off kilter, maybe more in line with the lunar calendar. I feel like I am in a sort of time warp where we are past the flush of spring blooms but not quite into the full summer blooming course.

This week we decided to once again go down dirt roads, finding some to the west that we haven’t traversed before – excited to find new territory. There weren’t many wildflowers and the landscape was very green, lots of green. It got me thinking about the landscape when we returned to Michigan just two months ago. In mid April we still had barren trees within a monochromatic brown landscape. The major transformations that takes place between winter and summer, and summer and winter still feels miraculous to me after witnessing it many, many times. Unlike me, this story of nature never grows old.

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There is a sense of peace that comes from looking over a green landscape that just a month ago was being worked with tractor and plow and is now growing, in various shades of green under a clear blue sky (with a few clouds stretching along the horizon with the sole purpose of providing interest for my landscape photos.)

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It is time for the first mowing of the hay fields, and they seem to provide a sneak preview of the harvesting that will take place within the next few months. Julie and I each bought a quart of fresh-picked strawberries at an Amish grocery that we frequently visit. Michigan strawberries are so flavorful but the season is so short. This is the last week so we are picking up a few quarts so I can make freezer jam for us and some to share with daughter-in-law Natalia. She shares so much food with us, so it is fun giving something back to her. I still feel a sense of joy when I preserve food fresh from the fields for our enjoyment throughout the year. I have done some adjusting, however, in the foods I preserve and the ways I do it now that there are just two of us eating and I have less energy.

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I really miss the old barns when we are in Florida so I’ve been yearning to find some barns that have some architectural or historic beauty. We have been down our local dirt roads so many times that we talk about when we stopped to photograph this or that barn, but don’t stop again. This week I found a new one. I love the curved roof-line of the front extension on this barn and the doors are a beautiful color. Does this farmer have a few artistic genes? Did he pick the color from the Better Homes and Gardens modern barn colors at the local hardware store?

I have been enjoying the fields where the corn is just sprouting, a pleasure that will quickly come to an end because many of the fields have corn that is close to a foot high. There is a special moving pattern formed by these fields when passed in a fast-moving car. Because of our gently rolling hills the plows create gently-curving patterns. It feels very artistic to me, but I image it has more of a scientific or practical bent for the farmer.

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It was a very good morning that soothed my soul, allowed me to spend time in conversation with a very special friend, and stimulated my thinking about the beauty I enjoy as I ride dirt roads in the middle of June in lower Michigan. Life is happening at a gentle pace here – and I like it like that.

 

Barn in Soft Winter Light

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The joy of winter photography in Michigan is the very soft winter light as the sun sits low in the southern sky. The trade-off is a very cold nose and a biting wind that goes through multiple layers of clothing. The only post processing was a bit of cropping and exposure adjustment to better reflect the beautiful color my eyes saw. If I remember right I didn’t expose my body to the wind for this one, choosing to take this image out the truck window.