I have a really nice camera that has a sepia filter. I thought that setting might fit into the nature of the history of our property as it was last occupied 75 years before we bought it. There is a “farmer’s dump” here and we’ve found so many neat and wonderful things there!
With that said, here’s a look at the property in sepia.
A hillside populated with the discards of another era.
I’ve tried to imagine what those who went before us here were like. They lived on this very spot we now occupy. They did dishes, cooked, cleaned, fixed things, plowed, took care of their animals, cried, laughed, made love, ate, drank, read……all of the things we do today.
The only clue I have in answer to these questions is what they left behind, on a hillside just 30 feet from where I’m typing.
Before me and my family came, they left this place. Nearly 70 years ago. Why did they leave I wonder.? No one else came after them until now. The land passed through a succession of owners but no one saw fit to stay here. To care about the place. It sat quietly waiting with only the deer, the ants, the trees, rocks, and soil to occupy it’s time.
But the hillside held their secrets. Mundane, every day items such as an egg beater that succumbed to the slow embrace of the tree under which it sat. The tree hugging it more and more tightly year after year, as if afraid of losing it’s last connection to those who planted it.
Tin cans degenerated with each passing season; snow, rain, heat, wind, snow, rain, heat, wind until they began to lose their identities; their memories of what they were and why.
Parts of machinery held up better to the gentle onslaught of time, quietly proclaiming their usefulness only to become silent themselves with the passing years.
Salad forks, spoons, lamp bases, marbles, can openers, old TV dinner packages. Bottles; lots of them. Most broken, some intact, unbelievably, encased in the dirt just inches below the soil. Protected from the elements. Souvenirs from Japan, a hand poured heart made of lead from a mold, condiment jars and every other kind of product a family would use in the 50’s, 40’s and back.
A bracelet bearing the name Best, tossed down the hillside with the rest of the trash. Why, I wonder?
Did they get into arguments? Did they go to church on Sundays? They certainly had young children as evidenced by the small shoe soles and toy wagons left behind.
There are areas where bulldozers were most likely used to scrape together what was left of their existence, entombing it in neat piles. Sacred memories shoved together along with pipes, fencing, machine parts, barrels. Why did they leave and why bury everything?
I found this hillside and it’s occupants the first day we arrived on our property. I was fascinated and asked myself all of these questions. I wondered if our arrival had excited energies that had been dormant all of that time.
What did they think of us? Did they approve? Did she mind me polishing up her can opener and using it again for the first time in 70 years? I bet she didn’t.
I wouldn’t mind if I was a ghost.
PS As I was finishing the editing on this post, a cupboard door in my kitchen quietly opened by itself. I really wonder if they’re watching now.
I was outside last night near where we’ve located our fifth wheel. It was actually around 1:00 am. An unseasonably warm breeze was blowing and the chirps of the last critters of the summer drifted through the air. It was a nice feeling and I was brought back to the early days and nights of a year ago when we first arrived in Colville, WA.
It’s funny how nostalgia works. Fortunately, feelings associated with memories are usually good even though the feelings of the time might have been less than so. When we first arrived last September, we were excited as hell to be new land owners. For my husband, it was his first time living outside of King county.
We originally had our trailer on this spot but moved it to a different part of the property thinking it was more centralized. We soon realized there was a clear line of sight directly to the neighbors and we don’t like them. We kept the trailer there throughout the winter nevertheless but when we got our fifth wheel, we located it back to this original spot by a hillside where we could keep our “backs” to the wall. Being back on this side of our land brought back a lot of recent past memories, almost as if it happened much farther back in time.
Day 1 on the property, I explored every square inch. It’s 3.7 acres of a little bit of everything. It has two hillsides, a flatlands, forests, and the craggy windy highlands as I call them. I told my husband we should make a map of our place as a fictional land.
We bought our parcel out of a larger one that had been divided into four. Ours is #3 in the top left area. We wanted to buy the adjacent lots but someone beat us to #4.
We had seen “junk” piled up on an adjacent lot but I soon realized we had our own portion of the junkyard on our property. Only the last time the garbage was taken out was over 60 years ago. So their junk is now our treasure as they say.
We ordered a title search of the property at the courthouse. The land passed from the hands of the government into private in 1908. The last time it was actually occupied we figure was in the 1950’s. We had walked into a time capsule of sorts.
I think I found the original well. It’s at the top of the property in a little grove of trees in a sunken area. I found it when I was looking for a likely place for water. There was an interesting looking rock dead center in the depression that looked like it had been formed by hands other than nature. Maybe a marker? I dug a little and found the rock to be lose and ill fitting; like it had been moved there by machine to fill the well. We ended up locating elsewhere for water but I still dig up there now and then. I did yesterday and felt warmer water in the bottom as I did with our spring. Geothermal activity maybe?
The “marker” rock?
In my explorations and aspirations I saw a lot to write about and decided to start a blog but I neglected it for a year. I wanted to write about the adventure we’d just landed on. I now had the biggest back yard an overgrown child could ever want!
I love to dig. I grew up in a pile of dirt, in a tree, waiting outside the bar in a car for my mother…just kidding, kind of. Mom would shove us all into the station wagon with no seat belts, light up a cigarette, and make the trip to Grandma’s house several times a year. That was how it was back then.
Anyway, I grew up a kind of a tomboy so this piece of property is heaven to me. My husband told me repeatedly while we were still looking for a place, “don’t worry Babe, you’ll soon be able to dig all you want at any time of the day and no one will be able to stop you”. I have dug holes all over the place. Who does that? I have filled most of them back in for safety and aesthetic reasons.
Another example of the weird factor in myself was the night I found myself burying a salmon in my garden at 130am during a thunderstorm. I wanted to give it back to the land. I felt guilty I had let it go bad because it had been given to me fresh caught. The raccoons found it about 10 minutes later and the last time I saw it about 4 days later, it was hanging off a branch of a tree.
Nostalgia. It’s been a year. We’ve been through so much. Walking near the antiques hillside (the dump), brought it all back to me. That feeling of excitement and wonder. The pride of ownership. The explorability factor was high in this place and still is.
And now I’m finally taking up that blog I started a year ago.