Twenty-One of Fifty-Two
There's an old house sitting on Geneva Road. I drive past it everyday on my way to and from work and it actually sits on the corner where I turn to enter my neighborhood. The house, made of wood, is painted white and is weathered from countless frozen winters and the heat of endless summers. Paint is peeling from the long boards while the black asbestos tile roof looks swollen and rotting.
I stopped by the little wood framed house last week to try to capture an image of all the bright yellow dandelions on the front of the property. The weeds were knee high, but I made my way closer and closer to the rickety porch, sat down in the weeds and began taking pictures. As I looked around, trying to in someway respect the privacy of those who lived there before, I noticed an old rusted falling down wire fence at the back of the property. I tiptoed towards it, wading through the weeds and finally stood beside it. I took 100 shots of the fence over several days and two of them are posted on my flickr photostream. It wasn't until my last afternoon at this little place, I noticed the window.
The last resident of this homestead (I never knew him by name) may have been mentally ill. I heard reports that the police had been called several times because of his lewd gestures and if he attended church...he was asked to leave. He appeared to be a young man, unclean and unshaven. His hair, about shoulder length, was dark brown and unruly. When I first moved to the west side of town, I'd see him, sitting on the broken-down porch, cross-legged...just sitting--his back against the white wooden slats of the house. As winter approached, I'd still find him sitting there with a dark sleeping bag wrapped around his shoulders. His look was haunting and reminded me of the characterization of Christopher McCandless in the movie "Into the Wild." As the seasons passed, I saw him less and less. There was an occasional visitor, a car parked in the gravel drive, but most of the time, the porch was empty except for his dirty sleeping bag piled in front of the door. Then, one morning, it appeared he was gone. The tinfoil that covered the front window and been pulled down and the mounds of trash and collected items had been removed from under the crude carport. Someone, with a yellow jeep, carried in a vacuum while the doors were propped open. I've never seen him since.
The house appeared to be empty as I wandered about thinking of the lives lived there...then I saw the window. An old glass vase sat on the sill containing brightly colored pink and red silk flowers. I thought it odd that they would be left or abandoned in this place of abandonment... property, over grown with weeds, ancient fence posts still standing, fencing wire lay twisted and rusted, and white paint peeling off old wood siding. Were the old silk flowers left as a memorial of the young man who lived there for awhile? I'll never know, but they have made a lasting impression on me.
I like the image I've posted this week. The texture is rough, but the old white wood underneath is rougher. The simple vase sitting in the window brings life to the image and life where there is none...to an empty abandoned house. The scene is a reminder to me that a simple gesture can bring "a full brightness of hope" to those around us and we never know how it might affect the life of someone we know.