Thursday, July 16, 2009

Looking for Decay

One year from now we'll be in the throes of moving from Michigan to New Mexico, a process that will take several months. With that in mind I'm treating this as my last "conscious" summer in Michigan. Once we put our Okemos house up for sale, half of my heart will have already left the Great Lakes State.

I try to imagine what I'll miss. Friends and family, obviously. But when I'm looking out at the Jemez, Sandia or Sangre de Cristo Mountains or enjoying the flora and fauna of high desert living including road runners and sage brush, what will suddenly come to mind that will put a lump in my throat?

When we are familiar with something, we tend to overlook it. This is a time for me not only to pay attention, but to savor deeply. So I've given myself an assignment for the next year, and that is to visit many of the small towns that surround our area and photograph them. I'm not interested in renovated train depots and spiffed up diners, I'm talking about small towns, ghost towns, decay. I want to see peeling walls and abandoned buildings. Rusty bicycles and broken signs. Tidiness is highly overrated.

Yesterday Dick accompanied me on my first excursion, to Lyons and Muir, north of Portland.

Above: The building that surrounded it is long gone, but at some point this tile flooring was not exposed to the elements.

Abandoned church "M. E. Church, 1881":

Use Other Door:

The tiny sign at the top right reads "I have found the perfect woman. I could want no more. She's deaf and dumb and oversexed..." I shudder to think of the last line.


  1. Hi!

    This is a great idea and a great post (and maybe a great book!) I bet everyone will be weighing in on places to travel for your quest. If you get to the UP go to (I think) Negawnee (a teeny town west of Marquette). It was like Sicily, Alaska in Northern Exposure -- with fewer people!

    If you don't get lots of posts let me know, because I might have an idea regarding settings.

  2. Anywhere in the world, I find small towns are always the most fascinating.

  3. I've often thought about this idea when something catches my eye in town. I think - what would someone from out of town (or outer space) see in that? What does it say about us and what we value? I'm glad there are talented "see-ers" like you to help us pay attention to those things.

  4. Excellent. Funny, Lyons and Muir are towns I go through all the time. Larry is from Pewamo Westphalia, another good choice. Let me know if you need a photo buddy, I'm game.

  5. Lovely photos! Have you ever been to Fayetteville? In the UP, an old iron mining town, it looks like Greece.

  6. What an excellent idea Jane. I love the photo of the tiles. I always wonder about the stories behind those single tennis shoes on the side of the highway...


  7. This reinforces our attempts to savor the present, not just the past...and it will help with both. Plus, it's a fun adventure to boot.

  8. That's a very good idea. I've been trying to photograph Jacksonville, FL since I've been there 3 years and I hardly even know the place. I really like that tile photo :) Great find!


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