As far as I know, no one has counted the number of abandoned farmhouses around here. But from what I know, it would be a huge number. Places like this one are all over the place, with now-dead trees clawing at the stucco, with windows gone, with roofs collapsing in, with complete ruin just a matter of time.
The ones that have a fence around them or a No Trespassing sign I tend to skip: I’m a dedicated photographer and all, but I am not that dedicated.
This place was right by the dirt road that heads east out of Pep, and there was no fence, so I stomped through the scratchy remains of last summer’s weeds and had a look. The remains of the house were pretty sad – some ragged curtains that’ve been sawed down from constant blowing against broken glass, a kitchen counter that was saggy from water damage (it must be very old water damage: it hasn’t rained in ages), and the usual random piles of crap (literally and figuratively) that these kinds of places tend to have. As you can tell from the slits of light against the interior walls, the roof has holes. A roof with holes is a roof that’s not going to last. And once the roof goes….
This is my geography: a big sky and a long horizon and an absence of trees. It feels right to me. Hills and/or trees make me feel closed in, and that makes me nervous.
One summer night, in Durango, Colorado, we were staying in a cabin near a lake. A huge storm came up, with lots of wind and thunder and lightning. Generally that kind of weather is exciting, almost invigorating. But this particular night, I couldn’t relax. It wasn’t that the storm scared me so much as it left me feeling unsettled. Later, I realized that what bothered me about it was that with all those trees and mountains in the way, I didn’t know where the storm was. And that was what was making me feel so edgy.
That was when I started to understand that I am my geography.
And this? My usual view? I’d find it hard to give it up.