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The Roof Makes the Barn

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Everyone should have a Dean's Fork. Everyone should have a place they can go that makes their cares melt away. It doesn't have to be Club Med; it doesn't have to be far-flung and exotic, although I think a lot of folks believe it does to truly be a getaway. Getaways are all in the mind. Heck, everything's all in the mind. Contentment, dissatisfaction; rapture or torture; they all live in our heads together, and it's our choice which to access, which to entertain.

Being a simple person, I am able to find my getaway on a dirt road in Southeast Ohio. I love all our dirt roads, but I love this one best of all. There's only one occupied house along it, and the owner's only there on some weekends--it's his getaway, too.

 I often take the kids, but sometimes I just take Chet. He ranges far ahead of me, but he stops and checks to make sure I'm coming along, and he often races back just to give me a kiss. The best kind of companion, he is.

 There is something to be said for perennially cheery and energetic companions. It's nice to walk with someone who's thrilled to go along. Boston terriers do "thrilled" better than almost anybody. I love his little white Michael Jackson glove in this photo, the glimmering gold of autumn's last leaves beckoning beyond.

 The shadows paint tiger stripes on the road. I never walk Dean's Fork without wishing it were ten times its 2.5 mile length.

 Beeches turn yellow before they go gold.

And after the gold, parchment tan, and the leaves hang frozen, curled, stopped in motion. I love that about beech leaves.

We hurry a little, headed toward our favorite part.  I'm playing with camera settings on my beloved super-deluxe point and shoot Canon G-11--above, normal contrast; below, low contrast. It's interesting to change the apparent weather with a push of a button.

It's so picturesque I can barely stand it. I want to stand in the road, throw my arms out and yell AHHHHHH!! but I might scare the wildlife.

 The barns, coming into view. Magic, mystery, old stories not yet told. I finally met the owner of this farm on my last walk--what a charming man. 74. Still wrangling cattle. Must ask him some questions about this homestead. We were too busy getting acquainted in that visit. I was so happy to meet him, to see the unseen hands behind this achingly beautiful farmstead. I had known it would be someone like this.

There were two Herefords still in the pasture on my last walk. One wouldn't come in with the rest when he came to take them to their winter quarters, so he had to leave another behind to keep her company. He said he'd get them eventually.

 I watched him working a huge baler off his trailer hitch and marveled at the things country people do by themselves. He'd get it in the barn and later onto his tractor alone, just one man, outweighed by his equipment as a mouse is outweighed by an elephant. I feebly mimic his resourcefulness when I wrassle my canoe and cargo carrier onto my car by myself. But the canoe weighs 26 pounds; the carrier weighs 70. It felt so odd to walk away and leave him to it, but I would only be a hindrance to his Sunday afternoon chore.

     It was not a drop-jaw fall, but it stunned me nonetheless. These heart-lifting leaves have all fallen; everything here is in shades of unrelieved gray and brown now. November has clamped down and December looms. Today, tiny flakes drift by the window, making me oddly reluctant to take my morning run.

I made hundreds of images while the leaves were still on the trees, and I'm glad I did, for I can visit them whenever I want, to remember the fleeting beauty of autumn, the kind of beauty that makes me fling my arms out and my head back and spin slowly in a circle.                                                                          

  This ancient slate roof is holding up well, and that's why the barn is still standing. The roof makes the barn, as my Dad always said. I need to build a good roof over myself for the days the rain comes down. Having a place like this stashed away, a place I can go to soak up its quiet is one way to do that. For the human heart, too, the roof makes the barn.


The Roof Makes the Barn. Fantastic. This is exactly the advice I need right now. Beautiful post.

Great post Julie, I have shared your opinion for a long time, the roof does make the barn! Thanks for sharing..

It is so lovely to have someone who can actually express the beauty of SE Ohio for me. I grew up in Cutler and would take long walks back "the tracks" as we called them, the old railroad bed.
In October of the year my father died in December, I was so heartbroken as I knew it would be the last time I saw him alive. I took off out on the tracks outside town and realized how beautiful it was and somehow that got me through the next couple of months before I flew home again for his funeral. Thanks Julie.

What a beautiful post, Julie. I slid right into it. I grew up on a farm, lots of dirt roads, and barns. Thank you for allowing me to take this walk with you. I too know about that 'throw my arms up in the air and AHHHHHHHH' feeling. :)

Lovely! Posts like this are why I enjoy your blog so much. Thanks for sharing this fall walk and thoughts.
Susan E

One could do worse than be a singer of beeches.

Posted by Larry Mays November 28, 2010 at 12:19 PM

I may put Dean's Fork on my bucket list, in Autumn. You describe the perfect retreat with joy. I love this and every other story you've shared. You have a gift in being able to take us with you.

Thank you :-)

This love-filled post made me feel better about myself, my life and the world. Thank you.

Julie, you make me miss the country life! I used to have a dirt driveway I loved. It was in Maine lined with trees, comprised of 2 dirt tracks and a grass hummock running up the middle. I used to go outside and stand in that driveway becasue of the way it made me feel. Can't explain it. Can only report it. I love your barn and your dirt road. So...I am not the only one who flings my arms into the air and spins for joy!

Beautiful Pictures! Beautiful Sentiment! Thank you for capturing it and sharing! The leaves are all long gone off our trees here in MN, and the winds and ice have come. Soon the snow! Thanks for halting time a little.

My son-in-law and I hiked about 3 miles along a dirt road between harvested corn and soybean fields in southwestern MN on Friday. Clearing our heads of the business of Thanksgiving and needing some fresh air. We talked to cows, stood watching Canada and snow geese overhead, saw a bald eagle skimming the treetops. The giraffe was in his barn, so we missed seeing him. (Yes, there is a giraffe that lives a mile from our grandkids in rural MN!)
Rambling back roads in great mental health treatment.

"Achingly beautiful" is your prose. Thank you.

was thinking just like Mare as I read this.

Arms extended and spinning took place in our driveway yesterday morning as sleet came rainind down. Miss the white stuff up there. You never fail to bring tears to my eyes Julie. Thank you.

Posted by Anonymous December 1, 2010 at 7:07 AM
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