Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Country Life

This is one of our local farm stands.  I shot this photo as an afterthought, really, just because my camera happened to be handy and I liked the scene with it's near vintage truck and brown shingled barn and table of bright zinnias.  But when I look at it now, I see more than the sum of it's parts.  I see a way of life that clings precariously to the edges of my rapidly changing community.  

When I was growing up, the roadsides were filled with joe pye weed, and sunflowers and chicory and queen anne's lace.  Now they are curbed and manicured.

Neighbors planted gardens, with vegetables and a few cutting flowers, and left the occasional gift (usually a giant zucchini) on your doorstep.

Farms like this one dotted the landscape.  They were not always beautiful in the strictest sense of the word, but they were utilitarian.  And their beauty sprang from a sense of purpose and rightness.

Now they are few and far between, and seem to perch uneasily amid all the McMansions that have been built here in the past few years.  I didn't always fully understand the observation that "you can't go home again."  But it is beginning to sink in.  I have never left home but even so, it has changed around me.  And it is a sad realization.  


  1. I know. In the little section of Pennsylvania where I live, it looks much as it did 50 years ago. Honest.
    But a drive through Kennett Square or Avondale changes all that.

    Loved your little farm stand. I haven't found one of them here yet.

  2. Mary

    For so many of these farmers the temptation must be there to sell off the land for the McMansion instead of farming it, I would think. And there's nothing like the fresh produce!

  3. Well said! Not only are your photos wonderful, but you also have a talent for writing! I love this post!

  4. Yes...I look around and search for things from my childhood, even my children's childhood and all I seem to be able to find anymore is
    CHANGE. So much has changed and I know it is the 'way of the world' but I miss so many things that brought comfort and a strong feeling of security. With each fading of some of the things of the past, I find myself searching for something 'warm' and 'safe' to replace it. Just looking at the photo you shared with us makes me feel better!

  5. I agree that you can't go home again. We moved so much when I was growing up that I'm not sure where I would even look for home.

    But, life certainly does continue. People and places come and go. I guess we have to look for home in our hearts.

  6. Well said. I grew up on a farm. Not an easy life but a very rewarding one. Today those family farms are a rarity.

  7. I am definitely a "country girl". Whenever I have to drive into Boston or any of the cities around here, I always wonder how people can stand living that close together with no breathing room. How do you live without green space and trees and cows and open spaces. My first trip to New York City I was fascinated....but after a few days I decided it was a GREAT PLACE TO VISIT! I enjoyed your beautiful pictures...they make you feel calm and relaxed.

  8. So true. When I was in high school I watched a western where two people were talking about "progress" and one of them was saying that it wasn't a good thing. At the time all I could think about was, "but the telegraph and electricity and indoor plumbing, etc etc came and it's all good." But now that I'm an adult, I look at the shrinking farms and open land. I watch how over scheduled everyone is, even children and I watch Little House on the Prairie and think, "Wow, they worked so much harder than I do, but in some ways they had such a better life. He had a 100 acres and that was considered small! It's hard for me to even imagine 100 farming acres in one spot in my town.

    My hubby and I visited the town where he grew up couple of years ago and he almost couldn't find his house because the wild blackberry fields that he used to play GI Joe's in for hours weren't there any more. It was all houses. My husband was so disappointed and I realized that my children will never have fields to go play hide and seek in. They live in very structured neighborhoods and I don't feel like I can trust just letting them go explore on their own. It's a totally different world we live in and a lot of that is sad.

    If there is an up side to this topic, I do appreciate modern medicine, indoor plumbing and your photos are beautiful!


  9. The shocking thing is that this is going on everywhere. I've been documenting the changes for almost three years on my photoblog

    ...and actually won an award from a local historical museum.

    Imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from someone in Portugal who is witnessing the same steamroller effect over his rural area. It's sad to think off a way of life simply being swept away, but we are witnessing it daily.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

  10. That pic of the coneflower in front of the red door is just gorgeous. Love the shot of the farm stand too!

  11. I soooo understand what you're saying...the word "McMansion" is perfect...A McMansion does not describe a home, but a way to try to impress the world. Here in Tucson we have subdivision moguls who bulldoze and then build. Because so many people want a NEW house. But I love the patina and history of a home that has been lived in. Yes, more things can physically go wrong with an older home, but those new ones will be there soon enough, needing a new roof.

    Your pictures are beautiful, preserve moments in time. So we can keep the past alive.

  12. Mary, I have lived on the very same block in Brooklyn that I've lived on my whole life. I bought a house 7 houses away from my Mom when first married. So now I'm 55 and yep, things have changed. More traffic, bigger houses replacing small one, less flowers in gardens, kids not playing outside anymore, people putting bars on their window or alarms because they are never home, a thousand flyers being dropped on my door step, the churches losing parishioners and closing, strange new stores replacing old standards. Sigh. It's all a mixed bag where ever you go, I guess.

  13. I think one of the most charming things abour the farming communities is the individuality of the properties. They aren't always manicured, but they were quite often charming. I grew up in one of those farming communities and the sight of McMansion communities leaves me cold. They are "perfect" in a sterile and uninteresting way. I'm not sure I would call it progress.

  14. When I lived in CT...farming was a way of life until Foxwoods Casino came along and bought up all the old farms...such a shame.

  15. In our little town in California, it used to take us only ten minutes to get to the large town near here and go to the mall. All little back roads with fields. Now the time has trippled and the roads are lined with Track Mansions. Our little town had some good news, though. Our sewer lines are at capacity and won't be able to be upgraded for years. Yea. What that means is a slowing of the growth limitations that we already have, which is 70 building permits a year. Double Yea!

  16. Great post Mary! Love the vintage truck/barn/farm stand photo.

  17. You were able to capture that beautiful, seemingly more simple life with these photographs. It makes me want to pack it up and move to the country. I'd like an old country house. Something dilapidated with character! Your photos are beautifully calming. Every day you give us another thing to be grateful for!

  18. You write beautifully and captured something that even in my 31 short years here, I have noticed. And it fills me with sorrow. Can the tide be stemmed or even turned. I'd love to think yes, but at times think that we are on the way to the end. I'm fortunate to have moved from the big city 4 years ago and even though I still live in a town (in the country) it is certainly better. It's been said that Gympie is like Brisbane 50years ago with the tin and timber houses and the lack of traffic lights etc. It was meant in a derogatory way but I thought it was a wonderful compliment. But we have the estates with their box houses going up everywhere and I wonder, can the countryside around us hold out? My daughter longs for one of those houses but I would much rather my little, 2-bedroom house timber house, peeling around the edges, if for nothing else, than just as a protest against the way of the future.

  19. Since the moment I saw your name on my blog and your nice comment that you left there I wanted to leave my message on your blog. But when I saw both of your blogs there was no way I could reply that quickly because it took me a time to see and read as more posts as I could. I completely enjoyed and honestly I was delighted. I like your blogs so much as well as your personality and I am very sorry that I am not able to express myself in English the way I would be able to say that in my own language. But I would like you to know that I am really inspired and impressed with your wonderfully written posts and photos. Thank you very much for visited my blog and for gave me a chance to find you. I will be visiting often.

  20. Wonderful photos, in an inspired entry.

    Sad, but inspired.

    Happening everywhere, in one form or another.

    What else is there to say...?

    Other than -sigh-?

    Miss Mari-Nanci


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