I have a fascination with these old abandoned farm houses. Months ago I wrote a post, focusing mainly on the probably two or three generations of family that made this modest residence their home before moving on. I asked where did they go, and responded that a few might have remained on the land, but in all likelihood most migrated to the city. That’s been and continues to be an overarching leitmotif of these last hundred odd years.
These old derelict homes dot the prairies like seashells washed up on the grassy beach of time. Life built them, inhabited them, spawned more living branches, and finally passed on, to build and inhabit new homes in other parts. They are like gopher holes no longer in use silting up with soil and leaves.
Time is reclaiming this old wooden structure. Reclaiming the wood that was once living trees that were chopped down and sawed into beams and boards and planks. The chimney, built of brick, will take longer, but one day it too will collapse and return to the soil.
Grasses grow around it, and if you look closely moss and lichen spread by eating into the ancient roof shingles. Life built it and life plays its part in breaking it down. What other creatures make it their home these days? What insects? What birds? What critters?
And always Time flows on. We measure it in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. We comprehend it in those packets that comprise a lifetime, our lifetime.
We understand and grasp intuitively those relatively modest measures of time. They are easily related back to ourselves and our experience. But what about lengths of time longer than say our lifetime? Say a hundred years? Or two hundred? Or a thousand, or ten thousand?
What is the lifespan of the longest living tree? A thousand, fifteen hundred years? It’s a scale of time we have great difficulty in wrapping our minds around. What changes have occurred in those thousand odd years! What advances since that tree’s seed cracked open and sent out its first delicate root filaments in search of nutrients!
I like these tumbledown old structures. They once housed hardworking rural families with children playing in the yard after a day spent learning reading and writing and math in picturesque one room schoolhouses. Doubtless they attended tiny country churches too and when their time came were buried right there beside the churches, surrounded by fields.