Harry Enoch’s new series, Abandoned Clark County gave me pause to think about aban­doned places I have been to in my life. I made a few notes.

Remembered Remains

When I was a boy, some of my most excit­ing days were when the farmer plowed his fields behind our house. After the first rain we would roam those fur­rows look­ing for flint arrow­heads, spear­heads, and some lucky times, find a piece of bro­ken clay pot­tery left by a civ­i­liza­tion long depart­ed. Imagining those ancient peo­ple hav­ing once lived there made me feel like I was walk­ing on hal­lowed ground.

I used to stand where once stood the pio­neers of Fort Boonesborough and I thought of those who had died defend­ing and exert­ing their pow­ers to make a place of their own in the wilder­ness. I was awed by thoughts of those set­tlers’ mar­velous abil­i­ties at craft­ing, with their own hands, the neces­si­ties of their civ­i­liza­tion with­out the machines of my days.

A bit to the side of a grav­el track on my friend’s farm was a dilap­i­dat­ed wood frame house his grand­par­ents had built and begun their life togeth­er. The struc­ture was rot­ting, col­laps­ing, and unsafe to go pok­ing around with­in. But it still served as a home to bees and wasps, snakes and mice. In a cou­ple of spots, there were torn scraps of wall­pa­per still hang­ing on, still hold­ing touch­es of fad­ing col­or. Sometimes I thought I could still hear the joy of their laugh­ter, but it was just the echoes of dogs play­ing on anoth­er part of the farm.

Once, I walked on the stone-cob­bled streets of Ephesus that were over 2,000 years old. I mar­veled at the intri­cate carv­ings on sculp­tured door­ways, the par­tial­ly col­lapsed stone walls of libraries and tem­ples – not a trace of con­crete or steel, yet remain­ing. I sat in the seats of a the­atre that could hold 24,000 peo­ple, but now, there was no one to attend per­for­mances. Whole gen­er­a­tions of this mar­velous civ­i­liza­tion had long passed.

Whatever we build but can no longer main­tain, what­ev­er we make and aban­don – how­ev­er noble and mag­nif­i­cent our accom­plish­ments – it all only stands for a while as the earth takes back our ruins. Vines creep in, water dis­solves, soil blows over, and grass covers.

Seeing these things does not prompt me to dimin­ish the efforts of sur­vival and liv­ing, but rather gives me pause to reflect with rev­er­ence and humil­i­ty. Perhaps there is some under­stand­ing to be gained from these places about our own place and space of time in this world.

  • Bernard Fraley

    Winchester native Bernard Fraley has worn many hats, includ­ing author, pho­tog­ra­ph­er, painter, poet, reporter, news­pa­per edi­tor, and more. Find some of his books on Amazon.