I’ve embarked on an open-ended project to document, in sound, the slow return to dust of a beautiful old abandoned New England barn. This one has stood for about a hundred years; no one around here really knows for sure. Today, its windows are all blown out, the floor and sill are rotting away, the timbers gradually pulling apart, the roofline sagging. It stands in a corner of a big field by the ocean shore, tucked behind some overgrown white cedars, a bit removed from the former site of an abandoned old farmhouse. (The farmhouse was razed last winter to make room for a new house).
Inside the barn, there are tantalizing clues of past lives: in one corner, the crumbled remains of an outhouse, its pit luxuriantly overgrown with weeds; in another, burn marks from a long-gone woodstove; ancient holes in the wall patched, like geologic strata, with layers of roof shingle, scrap wood, and tin cans hammered flat; a big rusty spike pounded deliberately into a beam near the entrance for hanging — what? And throughout, there are the scratch marks and stains of generations of porcupines who called this place home after its human owners gave it up for lost.
When the wind blows across the field — as it did the day of this recording — the old barn speaks, in a language of creaks and groans. Outside the barn, the wind sweeps across the grassy field. Some wind gusts miss the barn and field completely, passing high overhead to catch the canopy of the nearby spruce forest in a delicious, distant swooosh.
⇒ Listen to an update, recorded more than two years later!