Down Dirt Roads: Brown

The joy of going down dirt roads.

Jude, on Travel Words, is finishing up the month (January) on the color “brown” before calling for a new color on Sunday for the month of February. I am currently living in southern Florida and my mind is thinking in vivid color with flowers, blue skies, and brilliant sunshine. Looking through my last two files from trips to the Naples Botanical Garden, I didn’t find much brown. Stumped!

Then I remembered all the files I have of photos taken while going down dirt roads in southern Michigan, where the other half of my “Life in Color” takes place. My first search was of barns but most of the barns in Michigan are red or white – but I found a few that weathered brown instead of grey.

Then I began to find other photos of brown found along dirt roads. Including Farmer Brown, himself, one of his long-horned steer, and a wooden silo. Hope you enjoy this little excursion into the browns of farmland in the “Greatlakes State”.

In a Northern Neighborhood

At the end of October my neighborhood was ablaze with color. This isn’t unusual – what is unusual is that this year I was in Michigan to experience it for the first time… once again. For the past 11 years we have been in Florida from the middle of October to the middle of November. We leave our northern neighborhood just as a few branches of color are showing here and there. Every year I eagerly watch for these small patches of color just as in the spring I eagerly watch for the gentle green of new leaves. We return to Michigan about this time in November to bare trees and the only fallen leaves to be seen are on the floor of wooded areas and on the edges of country roads. We return to Michigan to see what I see outside my windows now as we move close to our Thanksgiving celebration. Skeleton trees bare of leaves.

But I am still thinking about the past three weeks and am so thankful for being able to experience them. We had a really warm early November so I spent a lot of time outdoors taking photos and raking (well, more time photographing than raking). I was seeing autumn in my neighborhood through the eyes of someone living in the southern United States. I was seeing autumn from a macro perspective because it felt so exotic.

I noticed how the tree full of golden orange leave (first photo) in our side yard had a few bare limbs, exposing seedpods that are hanging on long after thousands of them dropped in early summer. When I was a child we called them whirly-gigs and would toss them in the air to watch them twirl to the ground. One of the wonders of nature. Next spring I will be pulling up small maple tree seedlings from my garden beds.

It is so amazing how many leaves are on a full-grown tree. The tree can be covered with brilliant leaves and still, underneath the ground is covered.

We needed to rake these up because the grass had grown during the warm days and the man who mows our lawn was coming the next day. We also went for a walk and both Jim and I moved to the east side of the street so we could walk through the dry, fallen oak leaves blown there by the wind. Oak leaves are the most fun to walk through because they are big and make lots of crinkling sounds when we do that special kind of shuffle-walk that we learned as children walking to school.

In a few days the weather turned colder, more seasonal, and the wind blew hard. As I drove down the country road on my way to somewhere, the leaves were whirling in circles on the road and leaves were falling so heavily that it sometimes made me wonder if I would have to turn on the wipers to see. Then I laughed at myself. What joy.

And then they needed raking again.

My inspiration for writing about living in my northern neighborhood this autumn came from the Lens-Artists Challenge # 123: Found in the Neighborhood.

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.

Patterns

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The normal landscape of Michigan provides beautiful patterns – patterns that touch my soul because I have been enjoying their beauty for many, many years. They whisper my history as the wind blows through and over and around the gently rolling hills.

I took the above photo on a frosty December morning when everything was touched by frost and the weak, soft light of a sun sitting low in the southern sky. There was a brisk breeze blowing the plumbs of grass seeds so I looked for a composition that would not only show the pattern of the seed heads, but also the pattern of the wind. The pattern of the rolling hills made a pleasant background and a wood lot provided balance on the right.

As I drive down country roads, I love the patterns of newly plowed fields, rows of crops…

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and especially the pattern of rows of corn stubble broken by gently rolling fields – on a misty fall morning as the sun is coming up. The hard part is finding a safe place to pull over to find the perfect composition of patterns and then to have enough height to see over the first hill to the second and third.

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I created this post in response to the 2020 Photo Challenge. The February theme is focused on the technique of using patterns.