Our family enjoyed a little Sunday afternoon autumnal agritourism recently--hay rides, pumpkin-picking, corn maze. But the best part was the old decrepit house! As we walked up to the hay ride waiting area I saw this beauty basking in the sunlight. I quickly made observations to my husband--it has been moved, it's pre-1900, the little bit on the back was added much later--and before we left the farm I deposited the children with their father and went to take a closer look.
When it comes to old houses I'm like a moth to a flame. I cannot stay away, even if they are clearly jacked-up on cinderblocks, loaded with old junk and sagging. I have more stories of me elbowing my way up to an old house. I may be getting a reputation in these parts.
Evening shadows and light.
The best part is that the owner of the farm saw me taking photos and started telling me all about the house. It had been moved in the 1960s when the main road came through, and back then it was on top of the bottom story of the house, which was stone (and thus couldn't be moved). It was built in 1853. The bit on the back? Added-on as a bathroom. I just nodded my head; I'm a semi-pro at this by now!
So then he took me inside! We went across the bouncy front porch into rooms crammed with old apple boxes, canoes, construction debris. Plaster torn, crumbling; ten-foot ceilings and thick beautiful moldings around all the doors and windows. The fireplaces had been ripped out when the house was moved and he wanted to show me what he considered the unique construction of the interior walls--inch-thin planks horizontally placed, with some kind of mortar in between, then covered with a thick layer of plaster.
Standing there in the dust and shadows with the fading October light outside I thought of all the families who had lived here. Babies were born; people died. I thought of all the griefs and the joys, the stories that are lost in time but linger in the air of the sacred space of a place that people used to call 'home.' I tried to describe this to my husband later--I just think about how the people there were just as real as you and I are now, but they're no longer here. It is sobering to think how fleeting their times were, and how fleeting our times are. It is such a privilege to get a glimpse into the past.
I see so much beauty in the rubble of life.