There is a great difference between the abandoned places I find up here in Muskoka, and to the North, and the little houses of Southern Ontario. The difference in terrain is obvious, and most often the active times of the places here were shorter and harder. There is rarely brick covering the walls, and a very different kind of energy. There is a spark that is difficult to describe; perhaps like a plucky centenarian that is clearly physically struggling but has a clear, sharp mind. When I visit, I feel encouraged to share in the adventure that was some of these old sites.
In the places to the south, there is a slower, more resigned aging. Their active times were, likely, much longer and their abandonments more recent. Most of these places as one goes south are at a much greater risk of vandalism and, ultimately, destruction. That can hang in the air. There is no question that each place and each building has a personality of its own.
The beautiful highlands near Creemore, seem to be somewhere in between. There is a quiet resilience and gentle beauty to the ruins here. At the top of any hill in this area, one has a clear view of the Blue Mountains and there is no question how they got their name – nor how the township got the name “Clearview”. As the sun drops toward the horizon at the end of the day, the Escarpment turns a violet blue in sharp contrast to the rich golds and oranges of the setting sun. As my interest rarely falls to the typical, it is for my words to capture the sublime of the natural place and my camera and canvas to look to the characters of it.
It is too easy to look at derelict ruins and cast them off as bleak and somber relics of a time long past, representing the impoverished rural experience, somehow divorced from the present and without hope for the future. This is a sentiment that is more reflective of our times rather than of the places themselves – a reflection of the eyes that casually view them never seeing them for what they are. They have become, simply, constructs of ruin rather than elegant expressions of entropy.
I met another artist this week to whose work I relate to because of his subject matter. His portfolio was filled with this house (above) that I recognized as the one I came to find that day to the south of town. He said that, for a time, this place was his muse. His paintings show many moods and seasons surrounding this silent house. He gave me precise directions to the site and when I got there, I immediately understood what may have grabbed his imagination. Below is one of his paintings and a link to his site.
Shifting: Snow, Salt, Sand ©Peter Adams
If we each remove the filters, even a little, through which we perceive the world, there is the chance we might discover something about what is around us and a little about ourselves. The silence of this place, the sunlight and soft breeze are cause for pause…
Are these places really empty? Or is that only a reflection of what we fear in change or, worse, in death? Perhaps if we place ourselves inside the house looking out, we can see the extraordinary flux and beauty that come as nature begins to reclaim us. What is it that we are really attached to? Does it in fact exist?
When I stepped out my front door on Wednesday afternoon, I was greeted by this cute little chicken napkin basket. Now the mystery is I have not the slightest idea who might have left it there! I am hoping one of my readers may be able to shed light on the origins of the chicken… To the mystery giver – thank you!