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By Joseph Dempsey One among the Mother Lode

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Arkansas Highway 314 between Onyx and Hollis
is the mother lode of abandoned barns. For that matter, the region is populated with more than a modicum of abandoned residences, too. They are all in the same stage of grayness, almost as if the Death Angel had swooped, reappeared, and made a low pass over the neighborhood with buildings in her crosshairs.

To the south of 314 flows the Fourche la Fave River. Being east bound, I made a couple of right-hand turns to see if I could run into the river, a nice clean stream. On the first turn I found a supremely ventilated stop sign turned into a target (see it on our blog). On the second turn, I found the barn above.

About a quarter mile or so before I got to the old barn, I noticed movement in my peripheral mode, a hold-over from military habits developed in a former life. I was amazed to see several cows keeping up with the truck. For a gravel road, I was moving right along, so the cows were trotting at a healthy clip.

Undoubtedly they had mistaken me for “their man,” the one who brought them fresh hay in the evenings. Sorry, Daisy and crew. I did not mean to tantalize you.

After I found the barn, I did the obligatory shoot-around and subsequent prying into its being. Upon further inspection, I saw that the nails in the old barn were round, which would probably put the construction date in the early 1900s or so. About this time, the cow’s “man” came by. After introductions and my neighborly apologizing for leading the cows astray, we struck-up a nice conversation.

The “man” is a friendly sort, probably not much older than my oldest grandchild, who is seventeen. I asked him about the barn. He figured its age to be about eighty years or so. I told him that’s about how old I had figured since the nails were round instead of square. He reported that a couple of former residences close by, long since collapsed, were indeed built with square nails.

The view of the barn at the top of this page is from the field side. I usually shoot from the road side, but the light today was better on the field side. The other view is from the inside looking out at the road.

I gathered up my gear, and a few miles later, some of it requiring four-wheel drive — to my absolute delight — I found the river. By that time, I surmised it would be after dark before I pulled into my carport, so the pedal went to the metal. Maybe another time.


N O T E S:  
Nikon D300 • AF-S Nikkor 18-135mm f3.5-5.6G ED • ISO 200 • 1/125 @ f4.5 • Feisol carbon-fiber tripod with Giotto’s Ball Head • post processed with Photoshop CS3 Extended and Genuine Fractals Print Pro

For a report on a good ol’ boy thing, check our blog, Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Click the jump wings
to see the previous
Photo of the Week.
Click the camera
for an index to every
Photo of the Week.
weekly grist

Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog.  — J. D.


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