Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


14 Comments

Trent’s World, the Weekly Smile

Looks like a front is going through.


The day before the midterm elections feels stressful. I feel like I can’t turn the TV on, can’t check social media. Too much conflict, too much negativity.

On my way home from an early morning run to the grocery I noticed dramatic clouds. And me with no camera.

Barns and cloudy skies make me smile.

I hurried home, but the drama was gone by the time I unloaded and put away the groceries.

Still, the sky was interesting. And I was restless.

The seasons are changing, the crops have been harvested.

So off I went, camera in my lap, to see what I might see. Sure it would never be the extraordinary sky I saw earlier. But you never know what you’ll find.

At first I was disappointed, mostly muddy grey skies, not the dramatic navy blue ribbons I’d seen before.

Time to hunker down for winter.

But when I got out of the car on a dirt road to grab a shot of a barn I saw the whole sky above me and actually said out loud – “Wow!”

This was my ‘wow’ moment.

And that inspired me to keep looking. And you know me…

Everywhere you looked was something wonderful.

…looking for barns amid wild skies makes me smile.

Couldn’t resist this one.

What made you smile lately?

Well yes, she makes me smile too.


22 Comments

The farm connection

The perfect campsite; shade but no mud!


Saturday, August 11 was supposed to be a perfect night to view the annual Perseid meteor shower. I debated where to go to watch the sky light up, while also being close enough to Ann Arbor, a city about an hour south of me, to attend a production of West Side Story with my aunt and out-of-town cousins.

But what was the perfect location?

Why, the farm where my mom grew up; the place I, as a kid, hung out in barns playing with the farm cats, or pretended to drive a tractor down the lane, while sitting on my uncle’s lap.

The backs of some of the barns, across a soybean field.

I have so many special memories of the farm and my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins.

Morning sun makes the barns glow.

So I was grateful to get permission to camp Saturday and Sunday nights near the back of the farm, in what used to be the orchard. Today it’s a beautiful mowed area with a mulberry tree, beautiful oak trees and a couple of very old pear trees, heavy with fruit. The whole area is surrounded by soybean fields, giving me long vistas to watch the sky.

Morning light on a misty soybean field.

If only the sky would cooperate. I had high hopes as I watched the sun set behind a neighboring barn.

Sunset on the first evening.

Saturday night I saw one meteor, just as I stuck my head out of the tent about 11:00 p.m. I set up the camera and messed with the settings for a bit.

There were more planes than meteors . There are two planes in this shot.

Behind me I could hear thunder. Above me the sky was rapidly becoming cloud covered, the weather front directly overhead.

Clouds begin to encroach on my night.

I ducked back into the tent moments before the first rain hit, and then listened as the storm wound up to pouring rain and gusty winds. At one point I considered running for the car, but figured I’d get soaked just getting out of the tent.

The storm pushed away around 1:30 in the morning and I settled in to sleep. No more sky watching for the rest of that night.

Sunday morning was damp with fog. Everything was dripping but the sunrise was pretty.

Sunrise, spectacular in a quiet sort of way.

I spent the day with visiting cousins, catching up, enjoying meals, and the production of West Side Story.

A pretty nice set for the story of the Jets and the Sharks.

By early evening I was heading back to my camp hoping for a re-do of the night before. It turns out they had rain while I was gone, and steam was rising up from the ground while water dripped from the trees. A little after 9 p.m. I could see ground fog coming my way across the soybean fields. Soon my entire campsite was surrounded in white mist.

Still, the sky seemed clear.

I tried again, but the fog and lights from the city made most of the stars disappear. Mostly what was visible was a planet to the south. So I worked with that for a little bit and then tucked myself into my tent and slept the rest of the night listening to the night noises.

See that planet up there above the tent? There’s a star or two too.

Monday morning arrived dripping wet. I wandered down the lane toward the barns I remember so well. It was early and I didn’t want to disturb the tenants living in the old farmhouse.

Lots of roof lines.

I quietly walked through the wet grass remembering playing in the corn crib, remembering the pigs streaming out of the barn doors, remembering where there once was a watering trough, a fence. A gate.

Ingenuity.

So many memories.

No I didn’t see a lot of meteors shooting across the sky, just three total over the two nights. But that’s alright. As I packed up the soggy tent and headed home, I was grateful for the connection to my mom on her birthday, and grateful for two nights on the farm.

A good couple of nights on the farm.

A big thanks to my cousin for graciously allowing me to camp in the old orchard of the farm he now owns. Thanks to him, too, for keeping the farm in the family and preserving so many memories for all of us.

The whole experience was priceless.

An original fence post.


21 Comments

Detouring

I drove over to Katie’s vet this morning to pick up some more flea and tick prevention medicine. She was glad she didn’t have to go with me. I did take my camera as I knew I’d be driving through the country and you just never know what you’ll see.

Almost feels like fall.

I was ambling down the road noticing that the corn here is just starting to tassel which always signals summer winding down to me. On the other hand it also signals the beginning of fresh corn season which is almost good enough to offset the heartache of summer’s demise.

And then suddenly there it was. The road ahead was closed. More road construction and me out in the middle of nowhere. No easy fixes here, I just took the last corner and headed west again when I needed to go east.

Turns out it wasn’t really such a bad deal. I got to see two barns I never would have found.

Time to start putting food away for winter.

This is what’s so fun, for me, about driving into unknown farm territory. You catch just a glimpse of a barn, sometimes a bit of red, or the tip of a roof line and if you’re lucky it turns into a great find.

Caught a glimpse of this one through the trees.

And on my way home I deliberately turned the wrong way…

What’s that way out there?

…and happened to come across a shorn wheat field full of Canadian geese and sandhill cranes.

I pulled over and stood in that field for a long time listening to them squabble over the best eating. The cranes were walking among the geese who were mostly napping. Different groups of cranes were flying at other groups.

This group of 5 was marching toward some sleeping geese.

I tiptoed away after awhile and continued home. What was just a trip to the vet to pick up some pills turned into a mini-adventure for me.

Don’t tell Katie, she’ll be mad she didn’t get to go.

Pretty big barn.


19 Comments

The road leads to many barns

Poppies at one of many rest stops we visited today.


If you’ve been following us on Facebook you’ll know that Katie and I are headed South. Today we completed day 2 of our 3 day adventure. We spent last night in Indianapolis Indiana, and tonight we’re in Huntsville Alabama. It’s supposed to be a 6 hour trip between the two but of course Katie and I stop at every rest stop along the way.

Plus we were driving through barn country.

This was probably pretty once.

Katie enjoys her rest stops and I enjoy my barns. What can I say except that she’s a very patient sheltie-girl. And I try not to get off course for very long or very often. In fact I only allowed myself to get off the freeway twice today when I saw lovely barns dotting the countryside. And I only traveled 3 or 4 miles out of the way each time.

I saw so many beautiful barns that were not in a spot easily found once I exited the freeway, but I always found something else that was (almost) as photogenic as what enticed me off course in the first place.

Saw this one from the freeway and actually found it after we got on the back roads.

It’s hot in the South right now. The car said it was 97 out there this afternoon. Katie, in her crate in the back seat, slept a lot and I tried to keep the car cool for her.

Cow rests in the shade.

But as the day wore on, and about two hours away from our hotel, I noticed the air conditioning was almost negligible. I’m sure she felt nothing cool in the back seat. She seemed lethargic and I began to panic. I rolled the windows down and hoped that the breeze made up for the lack of cool. I began to talk to her loudly and often. I told her we were going to get her dinner soon. She perked up.

Jackpot! A whole bunch of barns in one shot!

I stopped for a minute to give her a long drink of water and feel her tummy. She didn’t feel too warm. Yet. I drove faster and skipped the last rest stop at the Alabama line. I figured we were only 30 minutes from an air conditioned room, and stopping would do nothing but heat us both up even more.

Barn on the back road.

So I sang to her, talked to her, and she watched me, thinking something good was coming. It was. Air conditioning! I even planned on filling the tub with cool water if I had to cool her down. Or looking for a vet if I thought she was in heat stroke.

Working the fields on this hot afternoon.

But she bounced out of the car when we got to the hotel and pulled me, prancing all the way, into the lobby. And then she wanted to play. And eat her supper. And drink a big long drink. And go outside for a walk. And play some more. And go back outside. And get a treat. Or two.

The colors in the barn go so nicely with the colors in the field.

So I guess all my worrying was for nothing.

But tomorrow we’ll be getting up early to drive the last 4 hours to the lake before the afternoon heats up. And next week we’ll be taking the car to a dealer to see what’s up with the air.

It’s always something.

Air conditioning is good mama!


21 Comments

Barn hunting

I’ve been watching this barn as I come and go. Today there were horses so I had to stop.

Katie and I like to go exploring, mostly looking for good places to take a walk, but sometimes just to see what’s there. And along the way there have been a few barns.

You know me and barns.

I’ve driven by some of them because there was nowhere safe to park. That always breaks my heart. I imagine pulling in a driveway and asking whoever was there if it is OK to take a picture of their barn. “Why?” I imagine them asking me and I realize I have no real reason to need an image of their barn. I just want it. So I don’t stop unless I can do it anonymously and from a safe distance.

I could spend all day wandering country roads looking for barns.

This red barn was sitting right in front of me while I was stopped in construction traffic last week.

Can’t resist a red barn.

I shot it through my dirty windshield, just as traffic was beginning to move. At the time I thought maybe I’d drive back out that way to see if there was somewhere to park so that I could take a more studied shot. But tonight I decided that the through the windshield image wasn’t that bad.

And you’ve seen this last one before. A couple weeks ago I saw it, and turned around, parked on a side road and walked a country block to shoot it. Along the way a huge dog in someone’s back yard snarled and barked and I realized that probably walking along any country road was a stupid idea. Because down here hardly any dog is contained, and I was lucky this one couldn’t get over the fence.

Still…it’s a beautiful barn.

A hidden gem.


6 Comments

Mountain dog continuing saga

Katie here!

I thought this sign was pretty. Plus it helps me remember how to spell Cherokee.

Early yesterday mama was complaining that it was cold. Really really cold. I checked and it was a balmy 36F (2.22C) when we went out to explore the yard around 4 a.m. I don’t know what she was complaining about, it was perfect if you ask me, but she never asks me. At 4 a.m. she mostly grunts.

Anyway, she was messaging with a friend later in the morning and mentioning how cold it was and then it hit her. Cold. Sheltie. Hiking in Alabama. She figured out she shouldn’t waste such a good opportunity to take me somewhere fun. And, because she’s a good mama, she hopped right off her comfy sofa and bundled me up in the car and away we went!

Her friend Jamie told her last week about this cool trail called the Cherokee Alpine Trail not too far from where we’re staying. So she looked it up and decided we’d explore it!

Turquoise waters on a sunny day.

My goodness, what a beautiful place! Though I had to ask mama why we drove for like 20 minutes so that we could have a view of the lake when we have a view of the lake from home? Mama said to hush. But it was really really windy and cold up there, so we headed to the woods as fast as we could.

Hurry up mama, let’s get to the hiking part of this adventure!

The whole Alpine Trail is 4 miles and mama says even though it was refreshingly cool four miles would be too much for us, so we decided we’d just go part of the way and see how it went. Mostly it went downhill.

This is the last time I’m posing mama!

Mama was kinda worried that we’d have a long climb to get back to the car, but I told her what did she think it would be, seeing as we were on top of the mountain at the parking lot? Nowhere to go but down!

Watch your step mama! I’ll wait for you!

She was trying to hold my leash and hang on to her camera and not slip down the pine straw covered path. Eventually she just let go of my leash and let me trot down at sheltie speed while she bumbled her way down behind me. I had to wait for her a bunch, but I didn’t complain. You have to be patient when you’re hiking with a senior citizen.

Isn’t this the best fun mama?

We got down to the bottom of the mountain and I got to play on the lake shore at a pretty little beach. I just loved it!

Worth coming all the way down here, right mama?

I ran and ran, back and forth, barking at the waves and grinning the whole time. Mama told me they were just teeny tiny waves but I wanted to show them who was boss so I told them off. Mama did a lot of eye rolling.

I got the zoomies on the beach!

Then she said we had to head back up the mountain. It felt like we had already walked a gazillion miles and she was worried I’d get tired. I didn’t want to go back the way we came and pointed out that the sign said the parking lot was the other way anyway, and only .6 miles away!

Ahem…mama…I think we should go this way.

Good thing I can read. Mama would have taken the long way back!

The trail went up and down and all around through the woods. Sometimes it was just stuck on the side of the mountain and you had to watch where you were going. Mama let me walk it without her hanging on to me. That works best for us. That way I’m not dragging her along too fast.

This is a good spot to rest while I’m waiting for my mama.

Mama said I was a mountain goat. I think that’s a compliment.

When we finally got back to the car mama checked the map again cause it felt like we walked all four miles, but darn it, it really was just a little over one mile. I think miles should count double if they are straight up or straight down, don’t you?

Back on top of the mountain again!

On our drive home we got sorta lost. The GPS said to turn left but some guys were paving the road so we went straight and eventually the GPS took us on a little road that just got smaller and smaller.

Go ahead and take the long way home, mama, I’ll be resting my eyes in the back.

Mama was starting to say bad words and she didn’t even breath when we had to go over a rickety one lane bridge. But she got to see a barn so that made her feel lots better even though it took us twice as long to get home as it did to get to the park.

Obligatory barn photo.

When I got home I took a really long drink and then wiped my face on mama’s bed. And then I took a nap.

What you lookin at?

What a great day! I think the temperature in Alabama should never go above 43 degrees. I’m sure everyone would agree that it’s better to be cool than hot. Am I right?

Maybe I should try to get that on the next ballot. It would probably be the least controversial issue there!

Talk later, your Mountaineer Princess-gal Katie.

A little wind in my furs.


16 Comments

Something pretty

Barn in hilly Kentucky on a cloudy afternoon.


As you remember, Katie wouldn’t share her blog post with me, so I haven’t been able to show you all the pretty things we saw on our trip south.

Pretty things that were not Katie.

Light hits the barn.

I hope she’s napping so she doesn’t realize I’m blogging. She gets a tad upset when it’s not all about her. But in a way, this is about her, because we stopped a lot on the way South, more than I might have without her.

Lonely cow.

We drove through some pretty country but often I couldn’t get off the freeway in the places I wanted to take pictures. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, but when I was able to leave the highway and explore a bit of back road I almost always found something good.

Rain was on the way.

I was usually searching for barns, but sometimes I ran across something else. Like an octagon shaped house. I saw the signs for it and we traveled 15 miles out of our way just to check it out. I thought maybe we’d get out of the car and wander the grounds, but there were no trespassing signs everywhere.

Would have liked to see inside.

Thankfully there was also a marker that told a little bit about the history of the house. I shot two quick photos and got the heck out of there before anyone inside could get upset.

A bit of history.

Once we finally made it to the lake there were plenty of pretty things to notice too. Like this pair of bluebirds checking out the purple martin gourds.

“I don’t know honey, it seems a bit small.”

The sun was shining our first day here, and Mr. Bluebird’s feathers shone like sapphires.

Mr. Bluebird glows.

The local grocery store, here since forever, is gone, but I thought this faded mural on the side of the store was pretty. And nostolgic.

Piggly Wiggly fades into history.

Even tree bark here is pretty!

A many colored tree.

I guess it’s true that there’s beauty no matter where you go, no matter the season. And if you’re in the South in early spring you can almost always count on something catching your eye.

Sometimes it’s hard to look away.

The end of another pretty day.


18 Comments

There were barns

I started my trip ‘up north’ under slate grey, flat and uninteresting skies. Kind of sad actually, especially since I was going north to attend a photography workshop. November has arrived and we’re headed straight into winter.

But at a rest stop, about halfway to my destination the skies changed. To my west was sunshine and light clouds. To my east the dark sky remained. I was in farm country, and the barns and fields were glowing in the sunshine, still set against the dark skies.

I argued with myself. I have enough photos of barns. There are never enough photos of barns. I can take my time on my drive home Sunday, and there will be pretty things then. There’s no reason to rush today and the light will never ever be the same again.

I was hungry, my stomach growling and I had considered stopping at the next exit to look for food. But there was this barn just the other way up the road.

Guess you know which way I turned.


14 Comments

Cee’s Black & White Challenge: All Things Farm Related

My mom grew up on a farm and I’ve been back to visit only a couple of times in many years.

Some of the barns on the farm where my mother grew up.

The farm remains in the family, and the current owner, my cousin, takes remarkable care of all the buildings.

Corn crib with tractors.

I remember spending time on the farm when I was a young kid. Exploring the barns, hanging out in the corn crib. Riding the tractors with my uncle.

Antique tractor.

Tools still hang in my grandfather’s shop. I never spent any time there, we were forbidden from exploring it, and it seemed kind of scary.

Tools hanging where grandpa or uncle left them decades ago.

The farm is a special place and I’m glad it’s still in the family, though it’s a huge responsibility and a lot of work to take care of it.

Time keeps rolling along.

I miss so many people that used to work or live on the farm. Sometimes I think I can see them just around that next barn corner.

Which way did they go?


24 Comments

Cloud chaser

I was focused on something else, turned around and this was behind me.


Yesterday the sky was facinating; blue sky filled with huge black, white, navy and grey clouds. I thought about those yellow soybean fields I’d seen on my drive home from our latest camping adventure. I thought about housework that needed to be done.

I thought about it for approximately 2.4 seconds.

And then I picked up my camera, wrote a note to my husband and hit the road with no particular destination in mind. Well. I did think I might head right back toward the campground, but that was three hours away, and the clouds were moving fast. I was worried I’d miss the dramatic sky if I stuck to the freeway and drove for that long.

See that dark streak of clouds? When I first saw that it was right over the silos. Stunning!

So at my first opportunity I exited and began to wander those back country roads. It was a part of the state I’ve explored like this before, and I always figure I’ll end up with the same images over and over, but I never end up in exactly the same place.

Looks stormy, but it never rained.

I guess that’s the benefit of miles and miles of farmland and the big open spaces that I love.

Harvest time.

Good thing the car tells you which direction you’re going, because some of the time I could have sworn I was going east when I was going north. I’ve learned a long time ago to trust technology, but even so eventually I wasn’t sure where I was.

I ended up in a town with houses like this…

Pretty stupendous architecture.

…and this.

Summer flowers still going strong.

Pretty. I stopped to check my map (yes paper maps are still useful!) and to walk around a little. Then back on the road.

I was looking for that elusive soybean field. But instead of bright yellow I kept seeing acres of brown. The plants were about shin high, totally brown and I couldn’t tell what they were.

What IS this?

When I had a safe place to stop and look more closely I pulled over.

Looks like a bean pod…but???

I still don’t know what they are. Are they soy beans that have totally dried? Or something else? Does anyone know? I should ask my family. They live on farmland and will surely know what this is.

A little sway in that roof line.

Besides soybeans I was chasing the sun. I’d be driving along and the sun would pop out, striking the side of a barn off in the distance. It would be stunning, surrounded as it was with the dark stormy sky.

See that stripe of sun? It was right on that red barn when I pulled over, but by the time I got out of the car it had moved.

By the time I’d find a safe place to stop and get out of the car the sun had moved on. The clouds would shift, moving from their perfect placement, and though still pretty, the shot wouldn’t be as stunning as what I originally saw. The image that caused me to stop would have to remain only in my memory.

I got lucky. While I was standing there the sun struck the side of this barn’s metal roof.

I guess it’s kind of like trying to get that perfect shot of a baby playing, or a dog being cute. It takes some planning and a whole lot of luck.

Eventually I just stopped trying to catch that perfect moment, and enjoyed them as I saw them, driving cris cross along the country roads. I wished I had some sort of tracker on the car so I could see, later, what my route looked like.

A classic.

It would have been crazy. I turned around regularly to go back to a barn or a field. Sometimes just because. I know I went around several country blocks and at least once I wondered if I was driving on a road I had explored just minutes before.

Eventually I crossed a major road and checked the map again. I was all the way up toward Saginaw. It was getting late, so I wandered over to the freeway and headed home.

Did I ever find that red barn sitting in a soybean field? Well…

Red barn, yellow soybeans. Check.

…yes, yes I did. It was just a little field and a little barn, but it was pretty. I’ve found other more stunning examples in other years, and I’ll probably go out once again this year to try again, but I was happy to find this one.

And just look at all the other neat stuff I found while I was searching!

The sound of the dry corn rustling in the wind was special too.