I woke up this morning in a bit of funk. It was one of those days when I didn’t really feel a particular motivation to do anything. I didn’t want to go out…I didn’t want to stay home…I didn’t really know where I was going to go if I did go out…so why go out at all? Ever have one of those days?
After wandering aimlessly around the house, I eventually got caught up in and old movie, “Heaven Can Wait.” I haven’t seen it since I was a kid and it brought back bittersweet memories of summer evenings spent with my grandma. We’d pop popcorn in the frying pan, then I would take up residents on the couch and my grandma would rock in her recliner, usually with a dog on her lap, and we’d distract ourselves from the summer heat by watching old black and white movies.
Now, sad, and unmotivated, I decided it might do me some good to get out. Apparently caught up in the whole nostalgia moment I went to the state capital building, a place I use to look forward visiting during school field trips. Eventually, hoping for a perfect view of downtown, I aimed for what I remembered to be a grassy hill that would be a great overlook. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that hill had now been turned into a memorial. If you get a chance, go see it. Not only is the view amazing but there is a touching story written on the little wall that surrounds the piece about a slave who paid for his own freedom. In fact, there are several memorials there that are worth your time to go see if you’re looking for a little historical culture.
I still have not managed to shake this odd mood I’m in but with open window weather, I have high hopes for a good nights sleep. Bonne nuit mes amis…and pleasant dreams.
It’s no secret that I love downtown Des Moines. I don’t know exactly when it began but I do know that I have not always appreciated it as I do now. Like many things, I believe that photography is why I look at the buildings, streets and alley ways with a different perspective and respect.
I love the mix of the older architecture alongside the new. I love that I can walk the length of it in an afternoon, though I seldom do because I usually find myself turning into alleys or side streets and discovering unique and surprising scenes and places. I love that it’s not just a city of brick and stone but there are parks and peaceful patios. The roof of the library is covered with grass! People smile and say hello or nod as you pass by. There’s a history but also a vibrancy that keeps it young.
I remember friends from Chicago halfheartedly teasing me about coming from the middle of a corn field. In truth, that might be the best part of this city. It’s a combination of progressive innovation mixed with a healthy dose of down home humility.
Just on the outside of downtown Des Moines, there’s a winding road that takes you through open fields and groves of trees, past several small ponds and in some places skirts along the Des Moines River. It’s a little oasis right in the middle of everything.
Whenever I’m needing a change of pace for my drive to or from work, this is a favorite alternative. It slows me down and for a few moments I can forget about the hustle and bustle and just breathe. It’s also a favorite place of mine to bring my camera. Here I feel like I can take my time and just let the scenes appear. The different landscapes are perfect for learning how to photography light in it’s varying phases.
I happened upon this moment on my way into work one morning. Truth be told, I really wasn’t paying attention to anything around me (except the road, of course). I had a heavy heart and lot on my mind when I came around the curve that opens up to this little pond. Praying for some peace in a particular area of my life, this was like a blessing straight from heaven. It was a perfect reminder that while things may feel like they are crashing all around you there is still peace to be found. All you have to do is look up.
Little leaf, all alone.
You’re color bold against the stone.
I’ve no idea how it came to be,
That you should land right in front of me.
I almost passed without a care,
Thinking people might wonder if I stop and stare.
But something in your brazen stance,
Draws me in for another glance.
I can see your spots and ugly stains,
Your bruises and your dried up veins.
But these only add to the beauty there,
With each new glance I’m less aware.
Of the blemishes that mare your face,
Instead I see a lovely grace.
If you look past the flaws and the barren ground,
Peace and splendor and can still be found.
So one of my favorite fall activities is taking a drive. Ever since I was young I have enjoyed taking in the scenery but fall brings something special to the landscape. The cooler air, the golden fields and the vibrant leaves make a ride down country roads like a sweet escape.
With the holidays approaching I’m find myself looking back on the last few months and also ahead to the new year. With the windows down there’s no better way to just let go of what has been or what will be and just enjoy the moment right in front of you.
So get out there. Explore. Share your favorite places to go this fall. Before we know it, the snow will be flying and this year will be in the past. Enjoy the present now, while it’s here.
I love barns. I love photography even more. Put me in an old barn with my camera and I’m like a child at Christmas. One of the beautiful things about photography is that you need to pay close attention to details. One of the beautiful things about barns is that there are so many details to pay attention to.
So how does this fit into my favorite things of fall? For me, for this year’s barn tour, this might be my favorite little detail and to think, I nearly missed it altogether. I was touring the Dobbin round barn. The same barn that I shared in yesterdays post. The barn I almost did not see because it had been a long day of walking and climbing around and I knew it was time to head home. As I was approaching the on ramp to the interstate that would take me home I knew I would be driving past the gravel road that would take me to the barn this barn. The barn I really wanted to see. The round barn! I could see the road sign approaching. Glancing at my radio clock one more time I promised I would just make it a quick stop. I would get a couple pictures take a quick look inside and then be back on the road within 15 minutes.
I knew the minute I arrived I had made the right choice. I was greeted warmly by the owners and some extended family and then given a quick history of the family and the barn. Once I signed the guest book I was left to explore on my own and found that I was in no hurry at all anymore. An enormous brick silo in the center was only out done by the rafters whose intricacy looked like art. A wide cement path wrapped around the silo bordered by railing then another wide path of what I thought it were brick pavers and yet a third path of cement skirting around the outer edge of the barn. I made a quick walk of the inner path, my attention directed mostly at the large, almost square bricks of the silo. On my second trip around the inner loop I was trying to get a picture of some stalls that seemed to be hanging over the center path. Since the windows of the barn were located behind a partial wall the lighting was not ideal and my flash seemed to remove the ambiance completely. Hoping to make use of small light bulb above one of the stalls, I decided to brave the dirty brick floor and climbed under the railing for a better angle. Brushing the floor briefly with my hand, I realized that this was not brick at all but pieces of wood. Hundreds, maybe thousands of these rectangular cuttings laid out in a circular path around the barn, interrupted here and there by portions of cement and metal posts.
I wonder about the person or people who cut those pieces of wood. Was this the intended purpose of the wood or were these people simply trying to be good stewards or their resources. Maybe, and probably more realistically, this was a conscience decision by those involved because this material would be still be durable but also easier on the animals that would be standing there for unknown amounts of time. I had wanted to ask for sure but the owners were caught up in a discussion about some future restoration projects that needed to be done to the rafters and upper walls. My attention once again was drawn to the towering silo and rafters but for only for a moment.
Please forgive this post for being late…between an early schedule and our stellar satellite service (NOT!), try as I might I was not able to get this to load yesterday, due to severe storms in the area. However, I do take responsibility and will be more diligent about watching the weather and having something ready in case of impending winds, rain, slight breezes, light sprinkles or the possibility that an errant leaf might disrupt or distract said satellite.
Now for the good stuff! My love of barns is not something that I only foster in the fall so don’t let the picture lead you astray. I’m always on the lookout for these amazing legends of our past. Over the years I’ve seen too many that are simply neglected and sadly in need of some serious tlc. Unfortunately I’ve seen even more that are in differing states of deterioration, sagging and leaning here and there and eventually giving up altogether and collapsing into a pile of rubble and rot.
Last year I happened across a barn tour and spent the better part of a day walking in and out and around several different barns; learning about their history and the families who have cherished them. During that first tour I learned about the Iowa Barn Foundation and how they, through their team of volunteers, help qualified barn owners receive matching grants to restore these pieces of our past. For those who are able to do the restoration on their own they offer Awards of Distinction. They even have volunteers who create their bi-annual publication, offer legal and financial advice as well as administrative services.
In an effort to educate people about the history and importance of rural life, they bring people together through varying events and meetings. In the fall they hold their annual barn tour that allows us to witness these beautiful relics up close. Some of the barns are listed on the National Register but they all offer a glimpse into a rich past. I love the feeling of stepping back in time and imagining the people who built them and used them. Many of the current owners have had these barns in their families for generations and their enthusiasm and emotion is contagious as they talk about their late great-grandparents or uncles and aunts and reminisce about stories from childhood. Many have some wonderful photos of not only before and afters of the barns restoration but the people who originally built them and in one case the different horses and a pony who were stalled there.
It’s a humbling experience to stand inside these rough, sturdy built structures and in a sense, be surrounded by the generations that knew first hand what it meant to work hard and provide for themselves and their families solely through the land and what their efforts brought from it.