There’s a place, not far from here, that makes me wonder what the world might be like without us. It makes me think about, and long for, a time where the only thing that will be touched by society is the memory of what the world had once become. It is a half mile into the woods and take a right, and then a left, another right, and you will see it on your left. Hidden by trees and guarded by flowerless rose bushes they stand tall, casting shadows over the path you had taken to find them. There isn’t much more than vines holding them together, prying open the doors, and climbing the front steps as if to lead you inside, as if they have something to show you. Inside of course is nothing but the hollowed remnants of how a collection of humans had once spent their time, even though every room was anything but vacant, filled to capacity with small and medium sized creatures. They share food and speak to one another, squirrels, raccoons, and bats, and watching them makes me feel as though I was being shown a glimpse of what society was meant to look like.
Two buildings sit across from each other in the middle of the woods, a house and a barn, divided by a dirt path, and overlooking an expanse of woods and cranberry bogs. A scene that during the day is a bright and beautiful but at night is an eerie setting that instills an exhilarating sensation of apprehension. But now, looking at them as they are, hours before the sun has set, they are peaceful even when the animals inside of them are restless. The sound of the slow winds blowing leaves over the ground and against their foundations is a sound I imagine was never listened to or even heard when they had been serving their original purposes. I think about how the smell of the bogs and the African Daisies would have been masked by something like incense, or the scent given off by an oven that hasn’t ever been cleaned. Looking at the ground surrounding them I wonder whether or not the grass had been cut before or if it had afforded the permission to grow tall; it certainly seems that way.
The house is tall, but not as tall as the barn, and the barn is wide, but not as wide as the house. The two of them complement each other as if they had been friends all this time, they looked as though they had shared enough hours together to become well enough acquainted. The house has two floors, as well as the barn, each with at least four windows and one door, although the barn has two. Not only does the shape indicate that these two buildings served very different functions but the varying degrees of deterioration hint at this as well. The house is in good shape for something that is beginning to decompose but the barn has scars, marks along its walls where someone had hit it with a wheelbarrow, or maybe walked into with a shovel. However, one thing that they share is the way they were sealed, boards nailed across the doors and windows in the hopes that no other soul would enter them until they had rotted away or been demolished. This seems unnecessary but I respect it, and simply make my observations through the holes that the animals had created, and maybe one day they will make one large enough to invite me in.
The path that divides the structures is made of stone and soil, and as you follow it north it will lead you to a world so different yet so frighteningly close that one day it will inevitably consume them. The trees arch over the trail and shield the brush underneath so that creatures and plants alike can bask on cool slate and take refuge from the heated rays of the sun. The ground underneath them has been printed with the steps of deer, dogs, and a various assortment of smaller creatures, although, the most prevalent tracks left are my own, because as unfortunate as it may be I must traverse this way often, returning each day to a world I’m more familiar with.
The progression, although rapidly paced, is gradual, at first you leave the arch of the woods and stumble upon a stone path surrounded by wooden fences and cut down trees. Next, the trees have been cleared away and the fences turn to metal, and before you even begin to notice the subtle changes you are standing on the pavement surrounded by the sounds of industrialization once again. This sudden shift in scenery always makes me miss where I had been just before, free from creatures that talk and standing in the middle of a place that was worth a thousand words it would never receive. I long for again this place that was so absurdly beautiful if I think too much about it I might fall in love with something that is so near destruction; and that wouldn’t be good.
Two stories of what was once someone’s home, and a boarded up barn that are now both residence to an array of creatures that were never intended to inhabit them. Two buildings tucked so far into the woods that they are shielded from society but at the same time, are still just a quarter miles walk from a road that leads to an adolescent suburbia. They stand alone in the world overlooking the bogs and marsh like two gatekeepers that were once set in front of the road to warn off anyone who thought foolishly enough to enter the life beyond them; but now they rest in their place and serve to house and protect the feral citizens of their natural world. Or maybe one of them contains a gateway, an entrance, to a place unfathomable by a common person so that it had to be boarded up in as a way to assure that no normal man could prematurely find and enter the Garden of Eden; or somewhere else he wasn’t yet worthy to go.
Observing these two structures is an action that is now greatly upsetting as I wallow in the anticipation of their inevitable demise. Not because I know that one day their wood will rot and be eaten away by termites and all that will be left of them will be glass windows and rusted nails lying amongst the grass, but because I know they will not live to see the fate that they deserve. They will be robbed of the end where they are able to finally return to the earth, after their time spent serving as a home and warning to the creatures and travellers around them. The civilization has been growing closer to them for years and it is only a matter of time before they are torn down by someone who does not appreciate them the way I do, the way the creatures they are residence for do as well. My heart aches for them.