From the look of the abandoned property as we approached from the road, it was a photographer’s dream. I envisioned my shots when I saw several run down buildings with tattered wood and collapsing roofs. It was too good to pass up. But from the moment we pulled over, parked, and grabbed our cameras, I had the feeling that we were trespassing.
David and I had been scouting out the route to muzzleloading and were also looking for picture taking opportunities, while Mallory and Eileen were finishing up Hunter Ed. Nothing had indicated David and I should “Keep Out” – there were no fences and neither was there a “No Trespassing” sign. It was the trailer located next door that was giving me the vibes. I felt like we were being watched. Undeniably, I know that I would be watching if strangers were snooping around my place.
As I crept closer to the decaying buildings – sometimes feeling like I should be running the other way – the junk strewn about the yard began to reveal itself. Tires, appliances,
an aquarium, rabbit hutch,
chicken coop, file cabinet, and crib-sized bed spring were laying on the ground amid the tired old buildings.
All displayed the ravages of time.
I began taking pictures. My mind began to wonder as it usually does in such a setting as junk springs to life and shows me its past. I saw the olden days of rural Montana – abundance and hardship – harsh winters and glorious summers. I saw birth and death – work and play. I saw a beautiful landscape where wildlife roamed and sunsets that satisfied.
Why did they have a file cabinet? Somehow, it seemed out of place.
I understood why they had collected it all and didn’t throw it away. It wasn’t junk, it was their belongings – the tapestry of their lives. I felt naughty to be on someone else’s property.
David lifted his eyes towards me without turning his head and said, “Someone is coming.“
Sam was a pleasant fellow and gave us a bit of history on the place. The land belonged to his wife’s family and indeed times had been tough. The buildings were being disassembled little by little and he was making sure that we were not stealing from them, as some had done.
He said we could take all the pictures we wanted and pointed out some special things like the bird house and a dead skunk. The skunk had met his demise with his head stuck in the side of the barn and I pitied the poor animal. Had he frozen to death over winter? Where was he or she going? Perhaps babies had been waiting for her and were now decaying inside the barn.
We thanked Sam for his kindness. He then turned and walked away. I didn’t want to wear out my welcome, so after a few more pictures, I suggested we leave.
On the way out, a woman called to David and I from the trailer and asked what we were doing. We shouted an answer across the way, waved and said thank you.
We got in the truck, went down the road and stopped to take pictures of elk.
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