What You Will Not Find Here

You will find no advertising, no pop-ups, no tweets. Not even photographs, let alone a slide show. Nothing here will be moving fast. It will hardly be moving at all. Visit when you want a break from frenzy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 33 Outdoors: Next Door to the Happy Hour

 Monday, November 19, 2012, 4-5 p.m.

The farmhouse that once stood on this land vanished years ago, and of the large dairy barn only silos and magnificent stone foundation remain, but other buildings, in various states of disrepair, stand precariously among the trees that have crowded in on them during the many untenanted years that have passed here, reclaiming the land. The air is warm and still, full of the clean smell of freshly fallen leaves. A squirrel darts nervously and disappears into a collapsing barn. Chickadees flit among the shrubs of the tavern parking lot.

One small building looks like a cabin. Oddly, mysteriously, the more open face of the cabin, with windows and doors, looks north, while the longer, more deeply sloping roof minimizes what would once have been sunshine (before the trees recaptured the land) from the south. One door is completely gone, frame askew, sill missing. Wide boards form the cabin walls (no doubt uninsulated), narrower wood siding nailed over them. The siding on the front wall still holds much of its dark red paint; on the east no paint remains, and much of the siding has rotted away, exposing boards beneath.

The cabin was originally roofed with more wide boards and then covered with rows of overlapping wood shingles. On the western end the shingles themselves are covered over by corrugated metal roofing, but the entire roof, rusting metal and rotting wood, is weighed down with dead leaves and vines. Vines also hang and twist about the eastern end of the cabin and form a wild tangle on the ground with odd bits of human refuse.

The building in best repair is the old granary, standing straight and true on its solid stone foundation built into a slope of ground. The granary’s exterior walls are covered with pressed tin, and this metal siding still holds tight to the boards it covers.

Although the ground is deep in leaf litter all around, several trees have been recently cut and logs stacked and brush neatly raked and piled by a new owner. As the delicate crescent of a waxing moon grows brighter in the sky behind the granary, a crow flaps by, flying north. High over the old farmyard treetops stir gently in the breeze. There is something melancholy about an abandoned farm, its buildings falling into ruin, and the scene is most poignant in autumn, but signs here point to some kind of new life taking shape.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 32 Outdoors: Old Garage at Centennial Farm

Friday, November 9, 2012, 9-10 a.m.

It is a still morning, fairly warm, without a breath of breeze. A crow flaps overhead. Crows work hard to stay aloft, beating their wings steadily, never coasting.

On Kolarik Road, just down the hill from St. Wenceslaus Church, what would otherwise be silence is broken by the sounds of men’s voices. Up in the orchard corner closer to the church, a tractor or some other piece of heavy machinery is idling.

At the Centennial Farm on the north side of the road stands a weatherbeaten garage, sided with wood planks like a barn and roofed with rusting but no doubt serviceable corrugated metal, the car that never quite fit into the building sticking out the open door as it has for decades. This old garage with its long-immobile car, like the church just up the hill, is a kind of neighborhood landmark.

In front of the building a maple, mature but still young, raises bare branches to the grey November sky, a few dark, shriveled leaves clinging to the tops of its branches looking like motionless birds. A smaller tree nearby holds an untenanted nest, its summer family gone before snowfall.

A large piece of heavy machinery has begun serious work in the orchard here on the south side of the road. One man guides this machine to push down trees, while another works with a chainsaw. One farmer walks over to the edge of the road and speaks across the ditch between orchard and road.

“Good morning. Yes, it’s a nice day. Too still to burn, though. Need a breeze to fan a fire.” Are they taking out a block? “Part of it, yeah. One variety turned out disappointing, so we’re taking those trees out sooner than we’d planned. Oh, yeah, we’ll replant.” 

Somehow the men’s voices and the sounds of farm machinery add to the morning’s peacefulness. Things are well in the neighborhood.