I’m always tempted to stop at derelict houses, old ruins, etc., sites where past generations have left their mark. There’s a particular atmosphere, a poignancy. In their state of aging or decay, they suggest sadness’s, hardships. The tiny rooms, the (often) miserably poor land, potato ridges still outlined in a nearby field, a fuchsia in full bloom.
I hope to find something more than just the gable or bare walls, something that will transmit a stronger sense of the people that lived there. A surviving hearth, the lintel over the window, over the door, the details that bring some personality to the remains.
The other day I came upon the ruins of an old cottage at the top of a valley in the Bluestacks in Donegal. What a hard place it must have been in deep Winter; now its walls half gone, but its extent and layout still very clear. In a recess in the gable, there was a stone clearly shaped for some function; was it a pestle, or a weight?
It is so rare to find anything but bare walls scoured by the weather. I thought of holding onto it, but, much more than any museum exhibit, it was where it belonged; I left it.
The hunch-doubled thorns,
the moss-stone walls
The nettle-cracked doorway,
the cloud curtained windows
The stone-sheltered air
the submerged garden ridges