1638 to 2009

By: pbcmedia

Feb 24 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: Aging, anxiety, History, NEW ENGLAND


Focal Length:16mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

I could begin the reasons one might love living in New England with its four distinct seasons, but, since I’m more than slightly deranged at the thought of it being 18 degrees (again) this morning, I’ll skip the weather angle and go right to history.

History with a capital “H”.  This house, this town, Dedham, Massachusetts, is just one of many around me that have survived a very long time through big, bad times and, wonder of wonders, is still standing, albeit sagging a bit here and there.

There are days when a girl just needs to remember this.

“Need” to remember, as this house “needed” its oak summer beam to support the rest of the joists and its chimney to center the house–to boil the cast iron pots, to warm the spines of generations of the Fairbanks family.  I imagine that on some February nights back in the 17th century, the elders in the family might have occasionally struggled for sleep, turning from one side of their bed to the other, wondering what their world was coming to and whether it was going to keep on spinning.

It’s tough to put in a tourist brochure, but sometimes, particularly when bad times boil, we may all just need to live in New England to steady our nerves and our gait.

Although, I swear to you, if there’s one more icy morning, I’m going to Rio.

“The Fairbanks Homestead”, open for tours May to October, reminded me of this today.

©Pat Coakley 2009


9 comments on “1638 to 2009”

  1. Sometimes when I look at old buildings like the one in your photo I find myself thinking about the lives that have come and gone in them. It’s almost like the buildings are some kind of pot were people’s life spans are rendered out of them.

    To quote my old mate Omar again:

    The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
    Turns Ashes–or it prospers; and anon,
    Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face,
    Lighting a little hour or two–is gone.

  2. Like Razz, I often contemplate what those walls would reveal if they could share even a small part of their history. What things hung on those walls? How many times have they been painted? Wallpapered? Has anyone ever punched a hole in them in anger?

    My oh my, what food for thought . . .

  3. This house has so much character it could almost blink its windows at us. I once saw a horror flick where a house falls in love with its (female) owner and locks her in so she can’t leave. The house in your picture is so old that I look at it and wonder what ghosts tread its floorboards and what stories it and they would tell us if we invited the house and the ghosts to Razz’s place for dinner. (BYO fire extinguisher).
    The other thing that crosses my mind when looking at this (apart from the fantastic juxtaposition of textures) is how quintessentially New England this house is, like a monument to New Eng-lish-ness.

  4. The light in this picture is really beautiful and adds to the historical magic of the scene. These reminders of our heritage and history are so important to provide a little counterpoint to our tendency to think it has always been as it is now. I like the metaphor of the oak center beam…

  5. Razz, you used this quote in a collage you did, right? Seems to me I remember the lighting a little hour or two–is gone. Nice, very nice.

    Tysdaddy, I don’t know about back in the 17th century, but if anyone strikes one of these walls in anger now, the whole house is going down!

    Epic, I agree about the character of this house! I have driven by it for years, too, without photographing it but have always pictured men, women, and children dressed in Pilgrim garb out on the lawn!

    Don, Yes, the light. Isn’t that always the way with buildings of any age? I am learning some new ways of combining exposures that allows the detail of shadows as well as the highlights to coexist together. I think this is a good example. Anyway, thanks! And, yes, I love the oak center beam, too. They call it the summer beam.

  6. I absolutely love the light and the perspective of this shot. Its a wow.. Can I be just like you when I grow up?

  7. You’ve made a painting of light and shadow, sun and shade and historic reference that endures.
    I revere buildings and structures that withstood centuries since it’s hard to find an electronic gizmo that doesn’t break one day after the puny warrantee is up.

    NYC has a tenement museum on the Lower East Side that houses everything as it was at the turn of the century. Such an incomprehensible
    feeling, imagining what transpired before central heat, telephones, washing machines, all of it.

    Your building, having even more history, makes you realize what hardships really were.

    Sagging, yes, but still proudly there. And shown respect.

  8. Gorgeous shot. They all are but this one really strikes my fancy.

  9. Again, it’s the mix of new and old that make this really wonderful. The tonalities in the siding contrasting with the bright new roof. The new angles at the top of the house versus the old crooked angles below. The leaves from the fall and the snow from last week.

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