Monday, August 25, 2008


After moving to North Carolina years ago, I began to notice the ever-present abandoned shacks that dot our counties. Travel down any country road and you'll see them. Old, dilapidated buildings constructed some fifty to one-hundred fifty years ago. I used to wonder why there were so many here in the South, but few in the northern states.

Duh. It didn't take long and I realized the milder southern climate does not wear on these relics as does the snow, salt, and consistent rain of the North. Either that, or our southern ancestors just loved to build more outbuildings than those who settled in northern states.

Of course, these buildings weren't always old, decaying shacks. What were they?

Good question. I'm guessing some of them were chicken coops, outhouses, smoke houses, sawmills, tobacco barns, potting sheds, moonshine stills, any number of reasons why these smallish buildings were constructed. I see them hugging the roads, covered in weeds, kudzo, and ivy ... abandoned for decades. I wonder who owned the land? Who built them and why were they left to rot? They squat like hundred-year old men, just waiting to die. But they don't. They're made of rock foundations and tin roofs. The wood walls, though worn, are so old they're almost petrified.

Home to the ground hog, a fox or two, spiders, and mice ... these old buildings serve only one purpose for today's generations. To remind us that once upon a time, a family lived on that piece of land. A family now gone. Dust to dust. The old shack won't die though. Not until some land developer decides to rape the land to throw up a hundred houses so close together you can hear your neighbor's toilet flush. Progress, they call it.

There's a cluster of old shacks across the street from me. I love them. Aged and care worn, their patina is a luster of all things mysterious. They scream out their story and I strain to listen to them. They're not eye-sores. They blend in with the trees and the red dirt. I hope they stay there always. I hope they will continue to be my only neighbors at least until I'm carried out of my house toes up. I hope they'll warm up to me and finish telling me who they are. I'll visit them often in my walks in the woods. Shacks can be scary, ominous, and uninviting to most folk. But to me, they're just a bit of history ... just waiting to tell their story.

Blessings to you and yours.


Dena said...

Beautifully expressed.

Dena said...

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