The pace and intensity of work lately has left me primed more than usual for pulling out the memories of this year’s earlier camping trip. It isn’t that I mind working (although independent wealth would be cool too, lol!). It is just that often it seems that there is nothing really productive about my days that is tangible when those 10, 11 and 12 hours come to a grinding halt.
I am up in the early pre-dawn today because I was trying to see the Camelopardalis meteor shower. Either my timing was wrong, or the city light pollution simply obscured the activity. Or maybe it didn’t happen after all. But the last time I saw any kind of meteor/shooting star activity was against the amazingly black sky during the camping trip. After going to bed uber early to get up and be even partially functioning at this time, as I stood about on my patio this morning, my thoughts wandered back to my time there and the simple joy of watching the night sky near a campfire.
You can read the first segment here if you missed it: https://sunflowersolacefarm.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/the-birthday-hike-part-1/
I left off at the exploration of the old homestead closer to the front edge of the property and the fodder for my active imagination found there among the cast off items of household activity, the slack look of the homestead proper, and the sense of timeless reverence I experienced while there. There might not be a more annoying combination inside of a person’s skin than that of a Pisces-Aries cusp personality, where the dreaminess of Pisces joins with the Aries impulsiveness 🙂 I can dream up endless things, and go rushing right off into the sunset to fulfill them at the drop of an imaginary hat! If air castle building was a paid skill, I would never have to drive in to a job again, that’s for sure. From one interaction, a sentence, a look, a line read in a book, my active imagination can take that down roads only briefly thought of before. I enjoy the mental activity, but I surely do get frustrated a lot when I am unable to fulfill the things I can think up. Ah well, it IS a cheap hobby of sorts 🙂
One of the images that so captured me during the courting of the homestead was that of an old jacket hanging tattered and weather-beaten upon the side of the house. So much promise, so much history, so many questions! Who wore it? When was it last worn? Why was it left behind? What were the thoughts and dreams inside the head that the shoulders of the jacket snugged up against? To say that the potential in some scraps of fabric entranced me might be an understatement. I stood for quite a while summoning up possibilities in my mind, from the far-fetched to the mundane, about this jacket’s owner. I studied it from multiple angles, capturing several shots through the camera lens. Can you feel it, the sense of curiosity? Or does it just appear to you as a fabricated remnant of human presence long past?
There was plenty of other human detritus scattered about that lent fuel to the fire of my imagination. Was the former jacket wearer a reader? Because amongst the bobs and bits of humanity scattered about still, was an open book. The photo is fuzzy, just like the outline of the people I am trying to conjure up in my mind as I stand outside the rickety house.
The flooring was too precarious for me to hoist myself up in the room to even risk a gander at the subject matter, and while I’m fairly adventurous I do try not to be foolhardy more than once or twice a day.
Was the reader the jacket owner? Were they also the one that stood in front of the now dilapidated and scattered Hoosier cabinet in times past, turning out fluffy biscuits or maybe savory cornbread? Or perhaps the wearer was the owner of a horse, since an old straw-filled horse collar lay among the stuff of life passed by. Where would your mind have gone? What inhabitants would you populate this wild place with in yesteryear? Or perhaps you are the practical sort and would only make note of the sorry state of the structure and watch your feet and hands as to avoid injury from rusty protruding nails and shards of glass that glittered in the early spring sunshine. There was so much food for thought present in the man-made structure that I had difficulty tearing myself away to explore what further visual treasures might be presented to me. The wild turkeys were calling out and curiosity got the best of me. But not before I revisited the jacket, and the window the owner might have looked out from to the scattered clumps of daffodils that populated the ridge above a ravine
If eyes are the windows to the soul, then what are windows?
I peered under the foundation of this homestead, and saw a scattering of abandoned canning jars strewn about, a metal ladle, old shoes, and surprisingly sturdy and pristine floor joists. And off my brain went with the possibilities about building a new homesteading life upon an old foundation. Well, until I discovered that parts of the foundation were kept from sagging by some well placed concrete blocks, lol! Okay, maybe not.
Reluctantly I pulled myself away from the house and into the surrounding area, discovering what appeared to be the trash mound at the edge of a slight ravine. Oh, if only I had a shovel, I would have turned a few shovel fulls just to get a glimpse of the past. There was an old cast iron stove shell out near the trash mound too. And of course, more of the ever-sunny daffodils, scattered about the field of brambles that I am pretty sure will deliver an abundance of blackberries once the season gets going!
As I found things, I added them to the growing pile of a snapshot across time, and let the owner know later that he might want to secure some of them for home decor in the future. Or, maybe I will, if they survive the elements and my move ever comes to fruition. How emotionally connecting, to add to a new homestead from the old.
As I am writing this, the emotions that captivated me on this day come rushing back. Anticipation. Curiosity. Appreciation. Wonder. Homes today, when people depart them, are normally pristine, swept clean of any evidence of prior owners, who they were or what they did. Professional cleaners come behind and erase the spirit of our presence, painters paint over kid’s pencil drawings on bedroom walls and height growth markers on door frames, carpets are replaced – nothing remains of the energy that flowed through the house over the years, no ghosts of what used to be, no patina of living and loving. Instead, we are presented with a shiny, new canvas on which to paint our own lives moving forward in a house.
Always I have been drawn to old houses and buildings, wondering what history has fallen through the cracks of the wooden floors, is contained between the layers of wallpaper, that floats in the dust motes in the attic. Perhaps it is because I spent part of my childhood in a grand old house turned into apartments, where old floral floor runners lined the sweeping staircase, and the wood on the handrails of the stairs was nicked and scarred under the glossy layers of polyurethane, where a rickety shed out back contained old kerosene lamps, iron tools that nobody recognized, and the smell of old damp earth emanated from beneath the bricks that created the skirting. I only know that my pulse races when I see an older home with character, and a new, airtight house with fancy E-windows does nothing for me. Perhaps the fascination lies within who we are as people, and wanting to be valued for the layers of history that we too, have accumulated under our skin. We also, have weathered storms, withstood time, given and received love, experienced laughter and tears, and are more than the sum of our visual curb appeal.
I’ll return later, perhaps during this weekend of three non-working days, to share the rest of my discoveries on this birthday full of emotional sensory experience. But for now, I leave you with your own imaginings, memories and delights. May we all age with grace and subtle beauty, like that found upon even a common concrete block, where living things integrate with the man-made, and create something pleasing to the eye of those who discover us.