I’ve always felt a kind of freedom when I get out of town, off the highways and onto a gravel road, winding through the country. When you grow up close to the country, you always end up at one time or another out there, just wandering. Every house is a bit of history, some notorious but most just the remnants of generations past – people who lived good though often hard lives.
As a photographer, a road gives you an automatic focal point. And it’s very easy to return to the same places over and over again, in all seasons and all weather.
This fall a friend took me to where her grandparents used to live in the country. The house is gone – nothing left but memories. A ditch where kids used to play, an abandoned well, a tree left standing alongside the road – these are the mementos of lives long gone.
Time was, when feeding your family was the first priority, and selling what was leftover an added bonus. Now, when only the largest farms are capable of turning a profit, the farmhouse and the world that revolved around it is becoming a thing of the past. And much is being lost in the process.
As a teenager, the country was where you went when you wanted to escape – from school, parents, friends, police – and it’s also where you went to form relationships. In the town where I was born, there weren’t many places to just sit. And when you’re that age, there has to be a place where two people can figure it all out. We all had our version of Pooh’s thoughtful spot.