Beyond the Junk

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Sam and Stella help dismantle the loading ramp. With gusto.

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One day last week, a simmering pot in the back of my mind disappeared. Multiple times over the past nine months, it had bubbled over a bit, spilling anxiety and anger. Now, after all that energy spent stewing and containing the boil, I find a new calmness here. The farm has lightened, freed—entirely!—from junk. The place is ours.

A big black truck had been driving on and off our property willy-nilly since May. Sometimes I’d be taking the dog out in my pajamas or picking sugar snap peas in my favorite, so-soft-it’s-transparent T-shirt when the unmistakable engine pulled, unannounced, into the driveway, sometimes with several Amish guys along to help.

2015-06-04 21.07.54I frowned at the rearranging and loading, and sometimes unloading, of mountains of “antiques.” Over the past month, under pressure of the (extended) deadline, the exodus of stuff crescendoed, and we welcomed the truck and the sound of it grinding the full trailer on the swell at the end of our driveway. Piles of metal that appeared immutable began to disappear. Stacks of tires and tire rims left the property. Shafts of light began to penetrate into the old barns.

Last to go was the piano, a baby grand from the 1800’s, he said. Like most of the things here, it was “perfectly good,” despite the silence when I first pressed the keys and the mold infiltrating the warped wood. We had declined to adopt it, so it moved from the house to the barn in pieces. Then its carcass, crumbling from the frame like well-cooked chicken from the bone, lay in weeds behind the barn for weeks. In the piano’s final week here, Stella harvested some keys and banged out its swan song on the bare, rusty strings, shout-singing along.

Then, one astonishing morning, the previous owner parked by our front door with his truck and trailer loaded. We signed an agreement that the lumber still stored in the barn and the loading ramp on the hill could stay, and that the extra three weeks we’d granted him were truly a period of grace, no charge. I gave him a hug, and we wished each other well, both amazed that this whole messy arrangement actually ended in a bon voyage—with just a hint of good riddance—rather than a legal disaster.

Now, the air seems cleared. I can simmer down and see our barns for the first time. The nearly 200 year-old, hand-hewn beams, wide as my body, need better support and protection—foundation and siding. As I walk across the open upper level, though, I feel the barns’ relief. Life pours in through all the cracks to fill the fresh, timeworn spaces.

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October 2014
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August 2015


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October 2014
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August 2015


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October 2014
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August 2015:  Loading ramp dismantled.

4 thoughts on “Beyond the Junk”

  1. I can’t believe it!! You must feel free without having to look at former owner’s items! So pleased for you!

  2. I am so excited to see theses photos of open spaces in the barns. I can hardly believe the current photos are real after seeing all the junk on our visits. What a grand corner has been turned! Enjoy renewed times of visioning the ways the buildings will be part of the dreams you’ve had for a long time. Your “home place” is emerging!

  3. Congratulations! The before and after photos are great. I wish that we had done more of those when we cleaned up our little place. I especially like seeing the puppy enjoying the “new” spaces.
    Our big news is that Loren ‘s daughter, Emily, is moving back to live in Athens.
    We are just back from a week in Grand Teton and Yellowstone. We had a wonderful time. It is hard to believe that it is almost fall again.

  4. Abbie, the photos are amazing. Who knew what lovely light filled spaces were behind all that junk. Those buildings are breathing indeed.

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