Monday, January 11, 2010

Here today, gone tomorrow





On days when I am especially stressed or, at the opposite extreme, especially mellow, I like to take the back roads home. It gives me time to myself and allows me to enjoy the countryside. I normally battle it out on my 23-mile drive home on US-23, north from Ann Arbor. One of the alternate routes is along Whitmore Lake Road, aka Old US-23.

Not too far outside of the Ann Arbor city limits, the scenery quickly turns to big open farm fields, old barns and farmhouses. One of my favorite sights was this old barn that was collapsing on itself and become intertwined in scrub trees and vines. It was as if nature was reaching up and reclaiming the land by slowing pulling the old barn into the ground. Each year, there was more trees and less barn it seemed. For most of the dozen years I have worked in Ann Arbor, it was a sight I could always count on. I don't know how many times I stopped and took photos of it - in spring, summer, fall and winter (including the photo above from a January 2006 ice storm and the photo at right, taken in the spring of that same year).

Then suddenly this past summer, it wasn't there any more. The first time I drove by, I did a double-take. Where did it go? I must have already driven by it, I thought. But then I noticed the towering pile of limbs and other debris not far from where I remembered the old barn standing in the midst of the farm field. I wanted to believe that I was mistaken, that I was in the wrong spot. But I knew in my heart this was right spot and it made me sad, knowing the old barn was gone forever.

Now there was just a flat farm field that holds no real interest for me. Yet I still always look when I drive by that spot and wonder why they bulldozed the barn down. It wasn't hurting anything and certainly doesn't add much plantable ground. But I suppose to the landowers, it was just an old, collapsing eyesore, best gotten rid of.

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