The old metal corncrib beside the barn is almost 100 years old, and it shows. In this photo from 1919, it’s the small structure to the left of the barn toward which the toddler appears to be pointing. It’s never been anything but an ugly, functional building, even when it wasn’t yellow with rust. Now the metal roof is bowed in, and is probably beyond saving. We don’t use the building for much of anything these days — I’m not sure how much it was ever used to store corn, since this place was primarily an orchard — and there are plans afoot to tear it down next year and haul the metal off to the scrap yard to be recycled.
And yet inside, the light patterns can be quite beautiful. When I poked my head in today around noon, my camera card was already nearly full with photos of autumn foliage, but I would’ve deleted any of them if I’d needed the room for pictures like this. At first I concentrated on the patterns of light shining in and falling across an old table.
Then I turned and noticed that the view out, of Sapsucker Ridge in fading autumn colors and the clear blue sky above, was equally striking.
Photos through the airholes in the metal walls were interesting from almost any distance, I found.
The only real use we’ve made of the building in 40 years of residence was to turn it into a natural history museum when we were kids. After a couple years, though, we got tired of the weather blowing in on our rock and shell collections, and relocated the museum to drier quarters in the shed. A couple of tables and a few other odds and ends got left behind and remain there still. Evidence suggests that my niece Elanor might’ve played in it once or twice.
Behind the corncrib, in addition to a few old tires and rolls of fencing, is one natural object that we surely would’ve added to the museum: a magnificent bald-faced hornet nest in a scraggly walnut I haven’t gotten around to pruning out yet. Our neighbor Paula plans to take the nest when we’re sure all the hornets are dead and put it on display in her living room.
And one other cool thing sprouted back there: a spicebush (Lindera benzoin). It grew unnoticed for a couple of years until I spotted it last year. It’s not a rare shrub, but here in the hollow the species has struggled to regenerate in recent decades when the deer herd grew too large. Now that deer numbers are down close to where they should be, we have the pleasure of seeing attractive, bird-friendly shrubs volunteering in out-of-the-way places where it probably never would’ve occurred to us to plant anything. When the corncrib is torn down, this bush will shine.
Click on the photos to see larger versions on Flickr, or view the slideshow.