May 10, 2012

Fresh Start with Old Traditions

Hello my fine friends. I hope this week is finding you all well. I should be out in the beautiful weather, but last night I was digging around on my computer hunting down for a photo for something, and I came across these photos that I took only two or three months ago while on a little adventure not far from my own homestead. I wandered off the beaten path and found another beaten path that was much more interesting and pulled out my camera and enjoyed the peaceful afternoon shooting and imagining the life that once was. Actually, the photos I am about to show you are all behind me, as I stand on this path. I drove up and behind me is what I found so beautiful in its own worn way. I will turn the camera around in a moment to show you what made me gasp in both excitement at the beauty and gasp at the sorrow of the abandonment. I didn't take my camera out for some time. In fact, this photo you see of the path was the one of the last photos I took right before I left my little adventure. 

As I walked around this place, first with sorrow, I began to have a different feeling overcome me. By the way, I walked around with a crowbar hooked over my arm at all times. I always have a crowbar in my car for all sorts of reasons, but mainly, because I tend to find myself in these types of situations and a crowbar comes in handy when a stray dog comes out charging and you can't tell if the charge is a happy-charge-let's-play or I'm-charging-to-get-you-off-my-land charge...and I have had both. Remember, I am from Texas, so crowbars in cars are common...but I digress.

But as I was saying...after much walking around the area and deciding that no one or nothing was going to charge, I got out my camera and once behind the lens, my sorrowful feeling went away. I began to feel completely different. And because of the way I felt, I decided to shoot my photos in a completely different mode and setting. This mode gave a touch of exactly how I felt while I was shooting - it gave the this abandoned area a lift full of grit. The good kind of grit that I will explore and explain as I share my photos that I shot in a completely different mode.

I hope you enjoy my photo essay:


I drive down this very long path next to a field and just keep going. It was so wonderfully quiet, a slight wind blowing and I was my thoughts as well as off the beaten path. Potholes filled with water jolted me back to reality as the holes were much deeper than they appeared as the water hid how deep the holes really were.

As I drove further down the path, I come upon this abandoned farmhouse and broken down barn. The beauty and stillness stopped me in my tracks. 

I am realizing I am keeping my distance, but I am not sure why...

I realized that I kept my distance for a bit, not wanting to interfere with this whole area. But that wasn't like me. Usually, I just clammer for my camera, march right in and just start clicking away. But this time, I left my camera in the car and walked the peripheral instead. 

It wasn't that I was afraid...(maybe I should have been!)

It was something different this time.  

As I circled the property, lost in my thoughts, but at peace with the beauty and yet puzzled as to how such a wonderful place could end with such neglect, I heard something and I stopped in my tracks.

I cocked my head and listened some more...what was that? I put my hand on my crowbar that I hooked into my jeans pocket by now and walked around the was very faint sound, not a threat, but something...

And then I found this:

A pinwheel!

It was at this moment that I no longer saw this property as "old" or "worn" or "abandoned." I stood there watched it twirl just enough to make that little sound that had made me reach for my crowbar only moments earlier and smiled to myself. I realized that while I did find this place beautiful, I had also felt sorrow. But suddenly, that sorrow went away because this pinwheel reminded me that it perhaps this place wasn't abandoned at all...

...perhaps the residents, the homesteaders, went on to make a fresh start. It was at this point I went back the way I came and got my camera and retraced my steps and took the photos you just saw above so you could see what I saw when I first arrived, as I saw the place myself.  Well, when I got to the pinwheel and stood here to take the photo and feeling happy about my newfound feelings, it was then that I really looked up from my new angle that I hadn't seen yet and this is when I got another perspective on the whole deal:

First I will crop the photo from where I was standing next to the pinwheel:

When I first looked up from my pinwheel, I immediately saw the house and how beautiful it looked through the trees and snapped my pic. When I checked the photo in my viewfinder, I was shocked to see this giant blue "thing" in my viewfinder, and so I pulled my camera away from my face and looked over my camera to see what in the world did I miss, and right there was this giant blue trash can! I never noticed it when I snapped my pic!

And that is when I realized that this place had grit and I think I have some too. 

Grit can mean all sorts of things to all sorts of people, but  my computer dictionary basically says:

grit |grit|nounsmallloose particles of stone or sand she had a bit of grit in her eye.• [as adj. (with numeral) indicating the grade of fineness of anabrasive 220-grit paper.• (also gritstone) a coarse sandstone layers of impervious shales and grits.courage and resolve; strength of character he displayed the true grit ofthe navy pilot.verb ( gritted gritting ) [ trans. ]clench (the teeth), esp. in order to keep one's resolve when faced with an unpleasant or painful duty figurative Congress must grit its teeth and take action [as adj. ( gritted) “Not here,” he said through gritted teeth.[ intrans. move with or make a grating sound fine red dust that gritted between the teeth.

My eyes went automatically over the trash, right to the beauty and I think that takes "resolve when faced with an unpleasant or painful duty." I was determined that this place was meant for beauty and not trash. And I think this homestead, and thousands like it around our country are full of beautiful grit because they show the resolve and strength and character of the residents who lived during a time that comforts came with hard work. Disaster was met with dignity. And fresh starts might meant abandoning an old location, but not old traditions. 

I feel very at home with homesteading and doing things with tradition. If you have been following me for some time, you know I am big believer in fresh starts too. Whether that fresh start is by choice or circumstances, we still will always be free to take along on our new journeys our traditions. 

I come from a long line of homesteaders. My forefathers arrived here from England in Boston, MA in 1634. Richard Maxson and Mary Mosher arrived for a fresh start when they landed so long ago. How they must have felt. I can't imagine. I walk around and snap photos and think.

Everything my forefathers left behind to start fresh again. It was very hard on them. Along with other settlers, while gathering goods and food, Richard Maxson and and his 13-year old son were killed by Indians. His wife, Rebecca and a few others, managed to get back into the boat and landed on an island, now known as Rhode Island. Shortly after, John Maxson was born. Rebecca was pregnant at the time she lost her husband. John was the first white child to be born on the island.

I think of the hardships then and the hardships we all experience now. And yet, we still move on, move forward, and somehow, with grit, we start again. I said we start "again" and not "over" because "over" sounds like doing the same thing twice. "Again" sounds like a second chance to me. A chance to do something different and to see things with a fresh eye. Like how I saw the house, and never saw the blue trashcan.

We may uproot our life, but we carry on our heritage and can still find beauty with the grit. My forefathers came over on a ship called "Griffin." And he then became a blacksmith. I can't even begin to imagine that long voyage and then immediately start working over heat and iron day after day. That is grit.

And I wonder about these homesteaders. Did this tree happen after they moved on? Or was this the circumstance that caused the move? Either way, it is a fresh start, whether they chose it or not. Just like my ancestor, Rebecca, who lost her husband, but then shortly after had his son, John. She lost, then gained. She moved on. She obviously did what she needed to do because her son, John, grew up and he moved on...but took his traditions with him.

I liked looking at these stairs. See the scuff marks on the kick plate? I wonder who kicked it as they went up and down and how often did a mother yell out, "Quit running down the stairs!" to her children? 

The pinwheel didn't get out to the barn on its own.

And speaking of barn, I make my way around the house and start to head over there to get a better look as I turn and get one last look at this beautiful home that once took care of its residents. It almost looks like a movie set, I think. Except, this is real life, no play acting here. Real love, real heartache, real mourning, real laughter, real pain, and I bet, a lot of real joy...

The joy of sunsets and sunrises..
The joy of fresh bread baking...
The joy of hearing the kids laughing in the yard...
The joy of fresh rain after days of hot weather...
The joy of seeing a loved one arrive home safely...
The joy of napping under a shady tree...
The joy of secret kisses when someone isn't looking...
The joy of bringing in sun-dried sheets and their scent...
The joy of watching the trees' leaves change colors...
The joy of a good meal with good friends...
The joy of thanking God for blessing us with so much...

The list goes on and on.

But that is what I mean when I say that we all get fresh starts, but that doesn't mean we can't keep our traditions - whatever they may be.

Joy is wherever you choose to look.  Even over a yucky blue trashcan. Just got to see it.

And now, I will leave you with a few more photos, and no words. I will let you find the beauty yourselves. 

This little adventure with my driving off the beaten path was good for my soul and I hope for you too. It reminded me that no matter where we come from, our circumstances, or if we are where we want to be in the first place...keeping our traditions close to us while going forward takes grit. And grit is a good thing because it keeps the blue trash cans of life out of view.

We need to remember that trash cans are really for just that: trash. 

They are a necessary part of life, a real part of life, and we can't avoid them, nor should we. But it doesn't mean we have to stick our head in it and smell what's inside of them!

We can stick our head out the window and get a great view of life if we choose matter what the window looks like. Remember, we ain't looking at the window, it's our view...point.  :-)

From my house to your house,



Anonymous said...

Oh Elizabeth,
What a beautiful post!!
You write with such heart and emotion, and every time I read it, I'm transcended to another time or place.
Your photos of this home are stunning and tell such a vibrant story of the family that once lived here.
And I think it is truly amazing an wonderful that you have the stories of your ancestors, not many people know much about theirs. I certainly don't, but I have always been so curious about where my family came from and the stories of their past.
Thank you for this lovely and thoughtful post and the laugh you gave me about carrying around your crowbar, that's exactly what I would have done:)
Have a wonderful weekend.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I went back and read your words over and over. They are so true.
This little hidden gem you found is heavenly...I would have found the owners and begged them to let me be it's caretaker and bring it's happiness back. Lovely lovely photos.

Anne Lorys said...

Oh my goodness...I wish I had been with you to discover this gorgeous gem.

Like you, I see the history, the beauty, the stories this homestead has to share with those perceptive enough to hear them.

I love the wondrous take you have on the world, my friend!
See you soon!!!


Jen said...

This was lovely. I, too, look at those old, abandoned farms and think of the pride its builders had in building it, the wife as she welcomed friends and family with a beaming smile to her fine new house, and all the work to clear that land (how's that for grit?) and farm it. I wonder about the families it housed, the kids who grew up there, who they were and what they did. And then I wish I had the means to restore it, to let it hear laughter in the halls again...

Shelley in SC said...

Mmmmm, gorgeous . . . the homestead and the post. Beautiful pics!

Shelley in SC said...

Mmmm . . . gorgeous! The homestead and the post. Beautiful, stirring pictures.

Burlap Luxe said...

Hi Elizabeth, first of all sharing your camera lens with us is beauty to behold, and the story told is yours to tell, thank you again my friend for sharing it.

The sound of the sweet little pinwheel I could only imagine the fright it gave you with that fluttering sound it made in the breeze.

It was a house that built someone in its time. Did you feel tempted to take home the old door ?
I would have loved to have seen you carrying that crowbar around, Wish I was walking the grounds this gem was built on.
If I were a house this is where I would have wanted to have been built, over looking the beauty of the land listening to its small voice, just listening.

Thank you girl for your beauty gracing my place with a beautiful comment.

Have a beautiful weekend

Tina said...

Beautiful photos and a beautiful post. I sure do see the beauty in this place. That´s what it´s all about - seing the beauty

cathypentonatelier said...

Beautifully written, amazing photographs...Oh so lovely as you are !!!!! c xo

Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

Thank you for these admonishing, and encouraging words. The breathtaking photos remind me of the old Missouri homesteads I've seen as a wife and mother, but never as a child. Bittersweet beauty. For those who left here, I miss this place on their behalf.

Emily said...

Your words and photos inspire me and are beautiful in every way. Thank you for that!

Debra@CommonGround said...

I guess I'll be the one to say that I'm glad you had your crowbar with you... what a strange and haunting place. my thoughts go to who placed the little pinwheel and how long it had been there. When I see photographs of places like this, it haunts me because the home I grew up in was torn down to put in a new office building. There is always heartbreak when we leave a place behind. Email me when you have time, I'm looking so forward to get together in STL with Anne. xo

Charmaine said...

Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement you give us with every post you write. This one especially speaks to me. Thank you, Elizabeth, for helping me understand things better. I can't wait for your next post!

Nella Miller said...

Beautiful in every way, E.izabeth. It gave me reason to pause and think about my own world and what I hope to leave behind not only physically but spiritually as well. Thank you, N.xo

Tamra said...

Absolutely beautiful photos! Some of your best work yet.

Nuff said.

Tamra said...

Some of your best work yet!

Absolutely beautiful photos.

Nuff said.

Island Mavins Vintage Market said...

Really enjoyed reading your post and your beautiful photography! Thanks so much for sharing!

BailiwickStudio said...

This is such a beautiful post. I feel the same way, knowing that my ancestors (who came over from England on the second Mayflower about the same time yours did) left everything they knew to begin again. And here we are today, their lasting legacy! ::Jill

Margo@Legacy of a Single Girl said...

Hi dear one! I've been thinking about you lately and hope all is well!! Your history story is wonderful....I wish I knew more about mine, but, alas, not many left to tell me. Your photos, AS ALWAYS, are STUNNING!! Sela: (I'm so glad you don't use Photoshop. I've been visiting a blog with gorgeous photos and come to find out they are photoshoped, so disappointing. Now when I look at her stuff I wonder if it's real.) You capture the true beauty in regular things through the eyes of your camera and it is just breath taking! And I just love the old, weathered homes the best. "Houses that need a hug" as you say! Great shots. And the sky!!! Wow!
Hugs from Arizona,

Brittany said...

LOVE the new post. Thank you for your words...they have been an inspiration to me since I started reading your blog last year. :-)

On a completely unrelated note, what program do you use to watermark your photos?

Keep up the wonderful writing! Makes my day!

the upholstress said...

what a joy to find your struck a chord in my heart & my mind......its amazing how one small insignificant "thing" can just change your whole perception of what is in front of your eyes........there are not many who can notice that.....& whos mind is "open" enough to see. Looking forward to your posts

the wild raspberry said...

Dear Lizzie~ I have been gone from blogging and visiting for ever so long, but when I come back, yours is one of the first stops I make. I don't have time to night to catch up on all of your lovely life, but I am happy to see the beauty you continue to capture and to hear you continue to speak so lovingly of the Barber.

I came across a holiday swing event on Nov. 4 that will be held at Alexander Majors Barn, where you all did Miss Frenchies. I was so excited to hear that it's open for events again I had to contact you and Debbie from Curious Sofa, and Carol Spinski, just to make sure you knew. I would love it if that wonderful show could come back! This new little holiday swing can be found at I've never been, but I'm thinking about it. Has to be a quick decision by the 23 to register.

Chasity is doing well. We are still missing our sweet Shauna girl. Her children are amazing and look so much like her. Much love to you and thanks for your inspiring and gentle spirit.
Love,Debbie Heck one of the wild raspberry sisters.

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