Do broken down houses make your heart ache?

In his book “Care of the Soul”, Thomas Moore says they do. And ever since I read that, I wonder.  In fact, I DO sort of cringe when I see these homes, broken down, falling more each day.  Delmarva has quite a few of them.  And the social worker in me wonders about the last people who moved out – what was going on, how it all ended.

Of course, the pragmatist in me says, “Yeah, well, if you’ve got a structure and you tear it down if it’s in the critical area (within 1000 feet of tidal waters on the Bay), you can’t re-build. As long as you have a foundation, you MAY be able to re-build on that footprint. So practically, if you have a falling-down house, for god’s sake – keep it right there until you’re ready to build – plans approved, dollars in the bank, contractors signed on, permits in hand.”

I can’t find the quote itself, which I thought was so poignant. I did find this one, which I think describes why Cynthia referred to her visit here as an “unreal world” on facebook. I think it describes how this slow life on these rural lands does nurture our soul, and maybe why it feels “unreal”:

“It’s important to be heroic, ambitious, productive, efficient, creative, and progressive, but these qualities don’t necessarily nurture soul. The soul has different concerns, of equal value: downtime for reflection, conversation, and reverie; beauty that is captivating and pleasuring; relatedness to the environs and to people; and any animal’s rhythm of rest and activity.”
Thomas Moore

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has an incredible exhibit right now called “A Rising Tide”, with photographs and stories of lower  Dorchester County, where the Chesapeake Bay is rising and taking over human lands – Hooper’s Island, Holland Island, etc. The stunning photography is burned into my mind. There is one photograph that took my breath away – an older house literally surrounded by water overtaking it, with some dozen vultures on the roof. My knees weakened and tears rose. Yet the end of the exhibit, (thank you CBMM) offers a different perspective – don’t remember whose, but it was all about the fact that – in the big picture, things roll back to nature, who reclaims everything. At the end of the day, the Bay comes in, the birds and fish and aquatic life take over, and our human time here is erased. No big deal, it’s just the way it is. And somehow, I walk out of that exhibit comforted by those thoughts. Go see the exhibit at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum – photography by David Harp, written by Tom Horton. You’ll never forget it.

~ by kbosin on September 9, 2010.

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