Saturday, December 13, 2014


Silent Sentinal, Blue Ridge Mountains, VA

I enjoy photographing old weathered barns with their distinctive character lines exposing the inner wood grains. And I seldom photograph an old deserted house because they just generally seem to lack the interest through the camera lens. But this deserted and weathered house nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains definitely caught my attention. The natural stone foundation and the outside stone fireplace dated the structure. I had to trek off the highway to capture the angle exposing the stripped roof and of course, the brightly painted flag with the text petitioning God to bless America was eye-catching.

At this holiday time of the year, it’s thought provoking to wonder how many Christmas’s were celebrated within the warmth of that old house around the brick fireplace. The house was quite probably erected by the homesteaders with help from neighbors, although I didn’t see any other structures standing in the vicinity. There may have been a small Christmas tree near the fireplace rendering a soft pine scent throughout the rooms as the woman of the house prepared a simple dinner. The tree would not have been purchased from an asphalt tree lot, but harvested by the family from the nearby hillside. Any packages under the tree for the children were very possibly hand made by the parents. Perhaps there were small hand carved “action figures” for the boys and matching hand sewn dresses for the girls and their dolls. There may have even been a small paper sack full of fruit and nuts under the tree for Christmas morning.

More than one successive family could have lived under the now crumbling roof. The home protected them from many storms and cold winter winds as they spent their life hours in this harsh country. Many new babies were probably delivered in the home by a visiting doctor or the family. Undoubtedly, family members breathed their last in the bedrooms as well. And now the house sits alone in decay as nature reclaims the land. But the Christmas memories surely live on in the telling of a Christmas past by the progeny of those who were born and raised in this silent sentinel of the mountains.

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