Life Through My Lens: No Trespassing
The country road was narrow, without shoulders. The old mill was cracked and crumbling, and humming bees swarmed in and out of the open windows and gaping spaces between the ancient stones. The road curved out of sight between the dilapidated mill wall and the rusted corn crib. It was impossible for drivers rounding the curve to see anyone standing on the road, but I could hear them. As each passing car approached, I hopped off the pavement and into the grass, ever mindful of the "no trespassing" signs posted on the mill.
Why was I there, taking a chance with my life with each approaching vehicle? It was the lure of the old trucks, rusting in the sunlight, with leafy vines snaking their way up the fender wells. The trucks were set back from the road, but a year ago I had the deputies called on me for merely standing on the road and taking pictures of iris blooming by a pond. I was told by the deputy it was fine; the paranoid landowner was not pleased that I could not be charged. Today I was trying to avoid a repeat scenario.
For a small country road, Doubs Road in southern Frederick County sees a lot of traffic. Cars, semis, and even a fire truck witnessed me hopping off and back onto the pavement in order to avoid collision on the one hand and trespassing on the other. But all were friendly, lifting a hand for a wave. My friend Gary, who was happily treading all over the grass while I hovered by the pavement, was clearly unconcerned. We weren't touching anything, or entering the collapsing mill, so he was in old truck heaven.
Emboldened, I joined him when he ventured up the road, around the curve, to the corn crib. A black SUV pulled into the driveway a little up the hill, and I mentally ran through the apologies I was going to offer while standing next to yet another "No Trespassing" sign. Of course, I was on my six inch strip of pavement, while Gary was a blatant two feet into the grass.
A man approached, carrying a folder, and as he walked toward us, he shouted, "I'm glad you're still here! I brought you some old pictures of the mill to look at." Oh my gosh. Was I dreaming? Don Smith, grandson of former mill owner Isaac Newton Smith, had passed us earlier in the semi, then gone home to collect the folder. He couldn't wait to show us the historic black and white images taken by his grandfather, who was an avid photographer in his day.
We saw the mill in its glory, with outbuildings, signs, and teams of horses drawing loaded wagons onto the scales in front of the mill. There was a photo of his grandfather hunting rabbits. Relatives lined the porch for family portraits taken at the house up the hill.
Don was proud of his roots, the mill, and clearly in awe of his grandfather; he says not enough people nowadays listen to their grandfathers, but with his, he said, he was "tight." Don says there are often photographers and painters around. After all, the rusting artifacts of time are a lure to many. The no trespassing signs are there on the crumbling structures for everyone's safety; however, one look at the mill will tell anyone with common sense not to enter.
In many cases, homeowners and landowners are pleased to have artists and photographers capture the beauty and document the history of their land and their structures. Obey no trespassing signs if they are posted. Ask permission, if possible. Leave no footprints, be friendly, and respect the property. Cooperate with anyone who asks you to leave.
Thank you, Don Smith, for a warm welcome and for sharing your photos. You made today's photo shoot into a meaningful history lesson, and it was much appreciated.
I researched the mill when I got home. Here is a link to it. http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/stagsere/se1/se5/010000/010300/010314/pdf/msa_se5_10314.pdf
Here is a link to all of my images from today: http://www.camscamerashots.com/p1061805546
"Life Through My Lens" is a travel/photography blog written by Cam Miller, copyright 2015
Email: cam.miller@comcast. net
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