Old buildings, old trees and the flow of time
I took this picture of a portion of the farm where my wife grew up before we built a house that now occupies the foreground of this picture, starting at those lilies and stumps and ending back behind where I was standing.
Before we moved in, a tornado destroyed two of the ancient trees, the one in the background on the left and the one directly behind the well. Since moving in, we’ve restored the smokehouse (center) and the well next to it. Past the tree on the right is an old tractor garage with a working Ford tractor in it. We’ve also shored it up with repairs to the roof and the back wall.
While waiting for the editor and the cover artist to finish their work on my upcoming novel Eulalie and Washerwoman, I’ve been moving wood and siding out of the garage and hauling them back to that rusty chicken house in the background. Why was the wood and siding in there?
From time to time, our house builder said he was about to call the dumpster company and have them haul way unused lumber and siding and that if we wanted it, we had to grab it quick. The tractor garage was the closest place to stash it. But now we want to use that space for other things: our riding mower hardly fits into it and we’d like to move some tools and stuff out of the garage of our house out there to free up space.
The riding mower and its wagon have been earning their keep for the past several days as I hauled multiple loads of fence wire, old tractor parts, old milk crates, and all that wood and siding back to the chicken house. The chicken house is already a treasure trove of lumber my wife’s father stored there over the years, long after the chickens were gone.
In time (if we sit and watch it), the chicken house–part of which was burned in a fire years ago–will fall down. We’ve already had a corner post or two replaced. We certainly have enough lumber and tin to shore it up and re-do the siding. We don’t yet know what we’ll use the space for, but it’s sad to watch nature take its course and see buildings created by the four generations of family who owned this far before Lesa and I moved here go to greater ruin.
If I were 35 or 45 years old, I probably could have hauled everything out of the tractor garage during a long weekend. However, while I’m not older than dirt, these buildings, or these ancient trees, I’m too old to move fast, carry a lot, or work long hours.
But, cleaning out the tractor garage has been a nice diversion with a purpose more meaningful than playing games on Facebook or drinking beer in a backyard hammock. The flow of time is as relentless as a river, but it can be slowed down without resorting to magic or time travel or multiple universes. One day, perhaps, I’ll write a post about our restored chicken house and you’ll think, why did you restore it?
And I’ll say, “for nostalgia with a modicum of practicality.”
“Eulalie and Washerwoman” is the sequel to “Conjure Woman’s Cat.” The farm is in northwest Georgia near the city of Rome where I worked in the 1970s.