© 2012 photograph by Gena Buskirk-Ford, "Old Jail" in Washington, GA
I love studying history! Not in a classroom, but out where history "happened." I like to go to historical places and "study" architectural structures, the people who lived during that era, and how society moved and "breathed" at the time. It's like putting all the pieces together of a mystery. I would have loved to have been a "mouse in the corner" watching history play out in front of me. I would imagine what life would have been like, how difficult or glamorous it might have been. It intrigues and invigorates me at the same time.
My husband and I had the pleasure of getting away for a weekend in rural Georgia at a friend's cabin surrounded by little towns full of history. One late afternoon, we went into Washington, Georgia, known to have numerous sites on the National Register of Historical Places and National Historic Landmark lists. Within walking distance of the restaurant where we had dinner and watched the big Georgia vs. Alabama football game, I photographed two of those places: the "Old Jail," the first jail built in Washington, and the Tupper-Barnett House. I haven't had time to pursue any details on these two buildings, but I've never seen such an aristocratic jailhouse with a fountain, a stain glass window and a brick patio! You can see everything I photographed last weekend in the "Historical Sites" photo gallery by clicking http://www.gatewayphotoartistry.com/p693925434.
Not far from where we stayed was a beautiful ranch with a colonial plantation home built in 1854. (For any architects or artists who know their structure names better than I, please forgive me if I butcher the correct architectural names.) We had driven by it several times and it was majestic with its stately columns and a large porch running the full length of the house. The horse stables and other outbuildings reflected the same colonial appeal and I couldn't help but wonder who lived there when it was built and what their lives must have been like.
This past Sunday morning during that same weekend getaway, I got up early to catch the morning sunlight when it shone on some horses in a field close to the cabin. When I arrived, the horses were huddled together too far away from the fence line for me to get any detailed pictures. I had left my 300-500mm zoom lens at home not thinking I needed it, and at that moment, I needed it.
Giving up on the horses, I headed back down the rural highway about a half-mile to photograph the cattle I saw close to the fence line and across the road from the 1854 home. I normally don't take pictures of cattle but the morning sun was creating dramatic lighting and the cattle reminded me of those you see out west, and I love the west! You can see the cattle in the same photo gallery listed above, and in http://www.gatewayphotoartistry.com/p527074900.
I parked near the fence, jumped out of the truck and here came the cattle charging for the fence! Was it feeding time?A couple of the cattle mooed at me letting me know, in no uncertain terms, that I should be bringing them breakfast. With no cars around for miles to disrupt the silence, the moos from the few cows that did "express" their dissatisfaction with me reverberated against every tree and nearby building. I had never been that close to cows when they moo. It was loud…and intimating! Even though an electrical fence separated me from the cattle, I kept my distance until we all adjusted to one another's presence.
The bellows from the "upset" cattle brought out their caretaker -- the owner of the beautiful colonial plantation, Mr. Paxton! He was an absolute pleasure to speak with and he told me about the cattle when I riddled him with questions. He told me about his horses, mules and other animals he owned on his 150-acre ranch, and how he and his wife had refurbished the home bringing it back to life. (I don't know if you would technically call it a ranch, but it looked like one to this city girl.)
Mr. Paxton gave me permission to photograph his horses and his home and he explained why he moved out there, how he built a rock wall after seeing them in Ireland (you can see it in the background of the thoroughbred horse picture), and how he loved to ride his horses over hurdles in his coral and throughout his expansive property. In turn, he asked me where I was from and what my husband does for a living, and what will I do with all these pictures. I took several pictures while we talked, took more of his home and then I headed down the road promising him I would make sure he would see the pictures I took.
As much as I am a city girl, there is just something about escaping into another time by visiting historical sites in rural towns. Grazing fields stretch out in every direction while you wonder if people living back then saw the same views you are seeing now. It doesn't take long to relax when all you hear is your heart beating and your deep relaxing breaths. Just one caution: with livestock and other farm animals surrounding you, be careful how deep you breath!
© December 5, 2012, "Taking in History Through Photographs," by Gena Buskirk-Ford, courtesy of Gateway PhotoArtistry™ blog, http://www.gatewayphotoartistry.com/blog.*