Friday, September 4, 2009

Confessions Of An Obsessed Barn-Picture-Taker or When Authors Immitate Characters

By Lonnie Cruse

I grew up in Las Vegas, surrounded by the hot, dusty, dry Nevada desert. Many home owner's yards there are made up of rocks and cacti. Easier to take care of. Not much farmland to speak of. Or crops grown in large fields.
When hubby and I moved to Kentucky, many decades ago, I quickly fell in love with the various old barns we saw when driving past local farm land. I admired them, but never thought to preserve them by taking pictures. At least not until now. Below is my favorite barn.

When I wrote FIFTY-SEVEN HEAVEN, my character, Kitty Bloodworth, expressed a desire near the end of the book for a modern digital camera so she could take pictures of old barns. Seems she shares my passion for them. In book two, due out next July, she's gotten the camera for Christmas and is busy taking pictures of every old barn she sees with the intention of creating a coffeetable book featuring old barns, perserving them for the next generation. Hmmm, sounded like a good idea to me.
My first digital camera was also one of the first on the market, and it cost an arm and a leg. When it became apparent that my beloved camera was dying a slow death, I went shopping, and to my surprise and delight, they are MUCH cheaper these days. AND the little memory sticks can hold lots more pictures. I keep it in my purse, which makes it handy for picture taking at odd moments, but it also creates a safety issue, at least for me.
Recently my friend Debby and I were returning from a visit to a fudge shop located out in the country when I spotted a barn I'd not seen before. I knew I just had to have a piture of it. I turned around and pulled into the driveway across the road and snapped a couple of shots, much to the surprise of the guy on the lawnmower who lives there. He apparently decided we were safe and went on about his mowing. I wanted a side view of the barn and couldn't get it from there, so spotting an old driveway in front of the barn, I backed out of the driveway, and nearly got Debby and I both wipped out. We were near a hill and a huge truck barreled over it, around us, and on down the hill. I was too frozen to move, which was a good thing, or he'd have gotten us as I turned. Whew.
We pulled across the road, parked, thanked our lucky stars, and I jumped out of the car and proceeded to hike to a suitable spot for picture taking, wading through calf-high weeds, ever on the look-out for snakes and spiders. But I got the picture! See below.

The next week, hubby and I were traveling back from Nashville. Spotting road crews hard at work and possible delays, he decided to take a detour to The Trace, the highway that travels through a nature perserve area in western Kentucky. I spotted at least five fabulous old barns on the way home so of course we had to pull over so I could capture them on my camera. Again, risking life and limb, but lucky for me, hubby is a better driver, so no close calls.

What's so facinating about old barns, you ask? Well, most are over a century old and still standing, often long after the land is no longer being farmed and nothing has been stored there for a very long time. They've withstood tornadoes, ice storms, wind storms, time, neglect, insects, and other dangers. They remind us of a time long past when nearly all farming was done by single families, not corporations. And the areas are generally peaceful and serene (well, except for the one near the dangerous hill!)

In the midst of snapping pictures and admiring the barns, it occured to me that I was imitating my own fictional character, Kitty Bloodworth, although my plans are to print out the pictures and put them into an album just for my OWN enjoyment, rather than trying to get a coffeetable book published like she planned. And who knows, she may succeed in her dream, given that I'm in charge of her life. Well, most of the time. When she lets me be.

What's your passion? Is it something you could preserve in a picture album? Make drawings of? Scrapbook? Incorporate into your life? Go for it! I love to draw, and I'm hoping to use some of these barns as models. Just be sure you watch those hills. And the big trucks. Not to mention the snakes and spiders.

The barn below is one of the few left with the Rock City advertisement on it. So if you run across one, you are seeing a piece of farming history. This one is about 15 miles from where we live.

Thanks for stopping by.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Wonderful pictures, Lonnie!

I also love old barns--I think they look so dramatic out in the fields (especially the ones that are decrepit and overgrown.) To me it speaks of a time gone by.

But I like other old buildings, too. I love Andrew Wyeth's paintings because they show people occupying very old structures. The newest buildings just don't have the history and interest.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

One of the best pictures I've ever taken--in black and white, which shows how very long ago it was--is of a barn in rural Pennsylvania with a big sign on the side that says, "Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco." In those days, we city folks didn't know anybody still chewed tobacco, and we never dreamed the habit would make a comeback.

Sandra Parshall said...

Digital cameras are not only much cheaper now, they also produce much higher quality photos.

When I was growing up in the south, there were many barns, a lot of them with ads painted on their roofs. Now much of the farmland has been used for housing developments and shopping malls. I hope there are more people like you, Lonnie, who are preserving images of the wonderful old barns before they all disappear.

Julia Buckley said...

Lonnie, I love barns, too! There is something so graceful about them, so dignified. And it's increased for me somehow when they are merely ruins.

We tore town a large barn on my grandparents' property, and my father saved the wood to panel our dining room. It was surprisingly important to us to know that a part of the barn still existed--and the weathered wood was beautiful.

Pattie T. said...

Yet another thing we have in common, Miss L.! I love photographing old barns and covered bridges. Thanks for the wonderful pictures.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Thanks everyone! We recently drove to Yellowstone and back in our son's motothome and I saw some beautiful old structures but couldn't get pictures, sigh.