Many of us associate fabric with cloth that is woven or knitted, using textile fibers. There are other definitions and uses for this word, that I like to consider. Another definition refers to the walls, floor, and roof of a building: a synonym would be ‘infrastructure’. Another use for this word is often used in the phrase, ‘fabric of society’.
In my quest to procure pictures of as many cemeteries as possible and put together a book recently took me into Effingham County. On one of my meanderings, I took Bandit, whom I often call Brutus due to his grumpy old man aura. After driving him well over an hour away from the house to an old Lutheran Church graveyard, and taking nearly 150 photos, we headed back towards home in Savannah, in Chatham County. Along the way, I stumbled on a dirt road just off the highway, and chose to pull over to allow him to out of the car; the world is his restroom, and not only did I want to walk him safely off the hustle and bustle of Highway 21, I did not want him to defecate or urinate on public property, nor on someone’s ‘finely manicured lawn’. The dirt road appeared to be the best spot for our pit stop.
I parked, put his black leash on, and we ambled a few steps. As he moved forward in doing his dog-ly duties, I glanced down the turn in the road, and saw an old barn, seemingly old and worn. Quickly, we walked back to the car and I retrieved my camera out of the back seat…………this was a photo opportunity for me – the type that I love most – one that presents itself quite accidentally. This barn is the type of fabric that is of the structure kind, and it is also a fabric of a ‘social’ sort: it is reflective of the Rural South.
In the front, open space, of the barn, sat an odd mixture of items…….some of which were obviously farming equipment, such as a plow, that was obviously in good condition and in use. Other items included rusted bed springs. The barn itself was obviously an older fabric or structure. It had the look of being consumed by nature, and possibly not something that would be standing for much longer. Limbs, leaves and weeds were becoming a part of the fabric of this fabric. It was early Spring, so the growth was just now recovering from a particularly harsh winter that the area had just endured. The true natural growth was yet to come.
There is a certain irony to this structure………one that has the appearance of being close to collapsing, yet, it houses rusted box springs, along with newer, obviously used, expensive, farming equipment. Many may ask or wonder why farming equipment would be sheltered by a borderline-decrepit structure. To me, being an Alabama native, this scene, while wonderful, is not foreign. It is part of the social fabric, particularly in the Rural South. I have wondered at the irony, yet I relish it. The old mixed with the new……seemingly in a protective sort of way.
This is one of many traditions of the South. Others include Mimosas, Mint Juleps, saying hello to anyone we meet on the street (whether we know them or not), lightening bugs, and hospitality. Many may feel the South is still backwards. To me, we are not necessarily backwards…..well, at least in ALL things….but we love to hang on to the good, and hopefully exorcise the bad. The barn, to me, did in fact reflect the fiber of Southern culture. And it is something I am glad to own be a part of ………and hopefully, reflect what is GOOD in this region.