Each section was built when the farmers needed it. Deep River, Connecticut, winter 2018

For many years I thought people acted spontaneously in making history. I thought, for example, that Rosa Parks suddenly thought she’d had enough of segregated buses in Alabama and that she was overcome with disgust and anger and spontaneously decided that she’d stay in her seat instead of moving to the back. Of course, she planned it. That doesn’t change how important it was. I’m still understanding this. In that way I feel like an eternal child who must remember how much planning goes into things before I do them.

This barn also required planning, but its builders acted with more spontaneity than a professional. This barn went up section by section starting in the mid-1800s. It was built with available materials, patched later with plywood and asbestos, and each section was just as big as it needed to be. The first section probably held a piece of farm equipment. The next sections would have held more equipment or tools. This barn has been falling in on itself slowly over the two and a half decades I’ve been watching it. If this barn could tell me a story, it would be a story of building just as much as you need, only when needed, with available talent and objects. The tractor was coming. It needed shelter. In that sense, this barn represents three or four different spontaneous acts over its history.

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