Sunday, March 17, 2013

Photo-of-the-Week #98 - Weathered Western Wood, Western Maryland, June 2007

Okay! First, Happy St. Patrick's Day since the day I'm posting this photo is March 17th. So, you ask, "What does this have to do with St. Patty's Day?" First, Ireland has long been known as the land of 40 Shades of Green and the Emerald Isle, so behold, this photo is about 75% green. Additionally, this region that includes parts of southwest Pennsylvania, the western Maryland panhandle and north eastern West Virginia was settled by many Irish (as well as Scotch, English and German) families. They became the farmers, the cattle and sheep ranchers and the coal miners who made their living from this mountainous and hilly region.

The old weathered barn at the focal point of this photo is indicative of this land. These large utility structures were built to withstand the test of time and many of these building have been standing 100 to 150 years and longer. The weathered wood, very often, rough hewn oak timbers and planking is in high demand by those desiring the weathered character and distinctive appearance of the wood. People often pay top dollar for this wood, even buying a barn from the owners of the land so it can be torn down for the wood. It's often a lucrative arrangement for the land owner and, often, those who buy the barns and dismantle them will make a hefty profit upon reselling the wood.

This region still has a lot of family owned farmland. However, as in other parts of the U.S., corporate farming has made the traditional farmer all but obsolete. So, the land passes from generation to generation and the families who own the property may grow a cash crop of hay, maintain a few head of cattle or a few sheep or grow a small vegetable garden and perhaps sell some of their harvest at their own road side stand or a weekend Farmers' Markets to retain their agricultural land zoning benefits. Sadly, more and more of the roadside stands are now becoming relics of a time past and are used for storage or fall into disrepair. And the farms that are still working at some level often erect economical, low maintenance, steel buildings. The landscape is changing.

However, to me, this photo is still a part of Americana I want to hold onto. My friend, who provides my base camp location in West Virginia, kids me about my wandering and wanting to meet all the "Beautiful People." She, kiddingly, means the people who shop on 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive. But, to me, the "Beautiful People" are those who still live in Americana and manage to make a living in our constantly and rapidly changing country (and world) in the land where their roots are firmly planted.  

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