Monday, May 6, 2013

Dovetailing east and (mid)west

photo of aged buildings near apple orchard
© harrington
Welcome. Thanks for stopping by. The buildings in the picture have clearly been around for awhile. Just as clearly, either they've been well cared for or they're being restored. They have character and help create a sense of place. I'm hoping that, sometime this Summer, I get a chance to go inside one or both. Have you ever heard of wabi-sabi? It's a philosophy and aesthetic based on beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete." Do you think these buildings qualify? I do. As an antidote to the constant barrage of "new and improved," wabi-sabi provides a sense of the real. It reminds me of the New England philosophy of "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" which may have been learned from my grandmother and my mother who learned it during the Depression, WW II, and the Korean conflict (a "police action" rather than a war). I also wonder if the fact that there ore two buildings reflects the prudence of someone who learned "if you find something that you really, really like, get another one before they stop making them." Now old isn't always best, although as I continue to age I find more often than not older is better. But, many of the things we've had and failed to take care of may be irreplaceable. Here's an example of not so benign neglect: 
photo of derelict dovetailed corners
© harrington
Look at those dovetail corners. How many builders/carpenters today do you think know how to do that? I'm not sure if this outbuilding is restorable. I wonder if the lumber could be put to use in furniture or flooring by someone who knew what they were doing. It just doesn't seem right to let pieces of Minnesota's history rot in place. Especially when it has inspired poets like Jim Johnson to write prose poems that accompany the photos of Marlene Wisuri and J.C. Hendricks in a book titled Dovetailed Corners. Here's a sample:
The barn roof collapsed in the middle. Tired of standing alone in the field against the odds-on popple trees, it just sat down. The logs of the one wall need time to consider. Soon they will be what they once were. Like you. In the middle of your life you came back to where you came from. Stopped the car, got out, and walked through the balsam trees. There were but two ruts where the grasses high-centered. Eventually you came to a field. In the middle of the field, so far back in the woods, so smack dab in the middle of this great continent that you might as well say in the middle of this world, now there you are. The barn roof collapsed in the middle.
I hope you enjoyed Jim's poem. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.