Friday, June 12, 2009

On old abandoned farms

Jan: One day, I was driving to the gym a new way and I came across this farm. It's a small New England farm that's overgrown. Rumors are that it's caught in a resolution of an estate dispute.

Something about the chipping paint and overgrown fields caught me by surprise. This plain old every day farm took my breath away. I felt transported.

I know other people have felt this way standing in front of great art. But as I think I've mentioned here several times, I'm not normally a visual person. Unless I buy the audio set at the art museum to give me the story behind the paintings, I'm bored out of my mind.

But this, this was different. The beauty affected my mood. And ever since -- about a two years now, I've been driving out of my way to pass this farm whenever I can. (Even risking getting caught behind the school buses in the morning). Every time, I experience this same feeling of contentment and peace.

I still don't really understand it. It's not like I was ever a 4-H club girl, or ever lived on or anywhere near a farm. And yet, the feeling is so strong, I almost believe in deja vu.

Am I getting loony in my advanced years? A little soft? Or has anyone else ever felt this way?


  1. I feel the same way when I see old farms or old buildings in small town downtown areas. I feel like I'm seeing a little bit of the past, I think. I've done the same thing--taken pictures of the places to recapture the feeling later. Maybe we're gearing up to using these places for a setting.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. In my town there is an amazing structure on the river, a hugely decrepit, broken-down boat shop. Someone still lives upstairs in the back. I put it in a story that's been rejected a couple of times, but I am determined to include it somewhere as almost a character. It gives me not so much a feeling of peace, but instead fascination and wonder at what the history could be. All the old-timers in town who I have asked don't really know. Hmmm.


  3. Not loony at all. There's something about abandoned places that's heart-wrenching--somebody, or generations of somebodies, had a history there, now lost. You always have to wonder why it was left to decay. It seems like such a waste (you see a lot of abandoned cottages in Ireland too, each with their own sad story.)

    In Granby (my fictional Granford) I am currently coveting a derelict farm that's for sale, not that there's any chance I could ever buy it. What the heck would I do with an abandoned farm? But I still want it.

  4. I wonder if you lived in the farm in a former life? Wouldn't that be neat. I've had the same feeling, like the first time I saw a mountain when I was about seven and I just stood there and thought, "THis is it. This is where I belong."
    My Welsh ancestry coming out, I suppose
    Now you need to write a blockbuster and buy it.

  5. That's lovely, Jannie.

    I thnk there are lots of explanations, from coincidence, to maybe that you're just getting happier and you saw that at just the moment that clicked, to some kind of convergence of time/space.

    Or maybe you just appreciate beauty and history.

  6. Dear Elizabeth, Ddith and Sheila,

    This feeling I get when I pass this farm is so srong that I was really, really thrilled/relieved to come to today's blog and see all your comments!!!

    It's really sort of a magical experience and I'm glad other people are sharing it whether its deja vu or just awe.

    Edith, A broken down boat shop sounds like a great setting for a story to me.

    And Rhys, I'm definitely going to follow your plan!

  7. Hank,
    Our comments crossed paths in cyberspace, so I just saw yours...

    I've never been called Jannie before.

    I kind of like it!!

  8. I'm working on the boat shop scene right now!

  9. There is nothing quite so breathtaking as found beauty, is there? For me, it's often the old architectural details on city buildings - a scroll from the '30s, now covered in 15 layers of paint. An ancient, fading painted ad for a product that hasn't been made in 20 years... secret joy!

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Since I grew up in rural Little Compton (Adamsville), I often feel a sense of homesickness when I pass by a farm or countryside barn. It's that sense of community, of nature, that feeling of simple living, that makes me smile and feel at peace. Until I was 20, I lived in a rambling 10-room Colonial built in 1774, with a two-floor carriage barn (complete with hayloft, sliding doors and horse stalls!)

  11. Wow Karen,
    I'm jealous. We used to keep a boat in Westport, so I've been through Adamsville, which is beautiful.

    I like that "found beauty." It's a new concept for me, though, because I have a tendency to miss a lot of stuff.

    Maybe the meditation is helping.....

  12. Looking at old buildings make me think of all the home maintenance chores I've not done. Not peaceful. But that feeling you're talking about (I think) is what I get when I watch the herons nesting in the tops of the trees near right off a major highway (Rt. 2) in Massachusetts. Pull over, get out the binoculars, and watch them. Peaceful. Satisfying. No maintenance required. It's been awhile since I was up that way--I hope they're still there.

  13. I love this post. It's wonderful that you have made this place a part of your life. Sometimes a landscape can be so perfect that it's as if you've stepped into a painting or onto a movie set. (Ugh, I can't believe I just compared a place of natural beauty to a movie set.)

  14. Ro,
    I think it makes me feel as if time stopped and I stepped into that stopped moment.

    And that's a surprisingly cool place to be -- whether you get there from a landscape or a watching a bird nest.

  15. Jan -

    It's funny how we can pass these places and there seems to be a story that we can somehow relate to very personally.

    As writers, it stirs our creative side. Although, I have to admit, it seems to go even deeper for you on this one. It may very well be that something in you does resonate from a past life. I also have to admit that I don't exactly know what a past life is... except that if it involves you.. you know.

    What I can say is that past lives are not how we "think" of them in linear time. However or whatever you "think" a past life is... it probably is not that... for most people. I learned this from a friend of mine, a mystic from Australia.

    MaxWriter -

    Love that visual about an old boat house. Definitely, never give up on that one.

  16. Hi Mike,
    I'm not sure what a past life is either, although there is certainly something comforting in thinking in terms of other existences.

  17. I was born and spent much of my childhood on my grandparents' farm. Log cabin, outhouse, cellar, cotton fields, the whole bit. Still, seeing a house, sitting miles from anywhere on a long, prairie highway, I always wonder about the people who live(ed) there. An old woman, alone and wary, a youngster kicked out of the last ride he hitched, hiking up to the house, looking for shade, hoping for food . . .

  18. reminds me of the mystery author on vacation in the Caribbean, whose first thought upon seeing the ruins of an old cistern on a hillside was, "What a perfect place to put a body!"

  19. I live at the end of a road in a valley outside a city on a farm.It was built in 1883 and totals 263 acres of some of the best dirt in the USA . I know how lucky I was to be raised their and milk cows and farm. My nearest neighbor is a mile away. Woods and quiet lighting bugs in the summer makes life complete. I wouldn't trade my Miami valley farm for any amount of money.