I live in Minneapolis, but I do a fair amount of driving on country roads. It's a two hour drive to southeast Minnesota to visit my sister, and a two and a half hour drive back to my hometown in southwest Minnesota. The roads I travel most often go through flat, open prairie or rolling river valleys, and although it's not necessarily a spectacular landscape, there is always some beauty in it. I am constantly looking around for things that catch my eye, and my mind seems to always be framing and composing shots. Even when I'm not taking pictures, this is an automatic reaction for me now. I think things like, I would zoom in on the peak of that barn, or I would place that group of trees in the left side of the frame.
While driving back to my hometown a few weeks ago for Easter -- during that long, brown stretch between winter and spring -- I spotted this old silo and tree on top of a hill in the middle of an empty field. I've passed by this spot countless times and I've always intended to stop and photograph it. This time the soft, late afternoon light was perfect, so I had to stop.
instagram version (edited in the VSCO app)
I didn't know anything about this farm or its story. There are old farm sites and abandoned houses and buildings everywhere in this part of rural Minnesota. However, my mom grew up not far from this area in southwest Minnesota, and every month she meets up with a group of her former high school classmates for lunch. She was in the car with me when I stopped to take these pictures, so she showed her classmates my instagram photograph at a recent lunch. One of her classmates laughed when she saw it and said, "my mom was born on that farm." This had been the site of her grandparents' farm, now long gone except for the silo and tree. These are small towns we are talking about, so I suppose the odds are not that remote that one of these women would know or be connected to this spot. But it was still a lovely little coincidence.
During my drives through the country, I'm constantly looking at the silos that dot our midwestern landscape. I particularly pay attention to the white designs and patterns that go around the top of the older versions. Here is a sketch I did last night of a different silo I photographed a few months ago. This one has a very common checkered patterned around the top. Most of the old silos I see seem to have this pattern, so I always note when the pattern is different or unique. The old silo in the photographs above had different, almost delicate, pattern that I want to zoom in on and see more closely.
Finally, I am so glad that that old silo remains out in that field. It's a pretty reminder that there used to a farm at the top of that hill, and because I stopped to photograph it, I now know a little bit of its story.