Urban Exploration: Chimneys and Antique Roses

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I had gone to one of the local BBQ places to pick up lunch for my husband and I.  As I stepped out of the car, my nose was taken captive by the intoxicating smell of hickory and apple wood smoke and roasting meat.  But under that fog of BBQ smell was another – one that immediately possessed me.

I’ve been told I have a nose like a bloodhound and when you cook for volunteer or used to cook for profession, it comes in handy.  Under the smoky BBQ pit smell, was the delicate and seductive smell of lemon peel and jasmine.  My nose perked up and my senses said:  antique roses.  In that locale, the roses could only be part of an old homeplace.  Old homeplaces abound in the South.  Sometimes they are beautifully maintained, sometimes shabby chic, other times beyond shabby and fallen on hard times or, in many cases, deserted and slowly going back to the earth, being claimed by weather and wild growth.

And in that locale, I had a feeling the old homeplace was in decay.  I took a few steps away from the parking lot down a bare path and before too long, found the roses.  Small white roses vining in and out of bushes, kudzu, weeds, trees.  Every spring, putting forth shoots and then fighting for survival and amazingly, still making their presence known.  I knew if there were the roses, there had to at least traces of the house itself.

A turn in the path and there it was – the beautiful stone foundation,  fireplace, and chimney.  Someone had lovingly cleared space around the foundation and it stood – after all the years gone, firm.  The fireplace, the heart of the home, was tall, proud and still strong.  It was a small house but the fireplace would have kept it warm in the coldest of winter storms.  The fireplace gave evidence of the light it had provided on dark nights and how it had been used to keep the family fed.

Who were the people that had lived here?  The people that had planted roses, iris, syringa, a vegetable garden?  People who had lived in the home: eating, sleeping, reading, laughing, mourning, celebrating.  I stood there in quiet awe and let my mind travel back.  In my mind, I sat on the small front porch shelling peas and enjoying the cool shade of the surrounding oak trees, listening to the birds and the leaves dancing in a summer breeze.  I stood and in my mind, watched snow falling and drifting and smelled the smoke from the chimney, seeing the house lit from within by lamps, casting a golden glow.  I smelled the roses, still growing and making their own way, rising above the weeds and underbrush.

I gently touched some of the roses.  I took their blessing with me as I went back out in the modern world.

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cynt5525
    May 10, 2014 @ 16:22:23

    Thank You for visiting & Liking my Post!!! 🙂 *Cynthia


  2. Ann Koplow
    May 10, 2014 @ 17:43:45

    I loved this post, and how it engaged my senses! Thank you.


  3. jaklumen
    May 11, 2014 @ 02:23:22

    I love photography and video of urban exploration and abandoned spaces. It’s especially fascinating when explorers do good research and can compare their current photos with archival media of how the places used to look. (No, seriously, it’s one of my lesser known interests.)

    One of my blogging friends has done quite a bit of photography as such and I featured one of her photos in response to a WP Daily Post Photography challenge. Let me know if you’d like the link.


    • kanzensakura
      May 11, 2014 @ 02:33:22

      It sounds very interesting. I’mgoing to the land office Monday to see what Ican search to find about owners, deed transfers, etc and to the county historic society as well. I follow a blog, Abandoned Kansai, about urban expl. inJapan. Very interesting. I find intriguing all of the things left behind in such places that haven’t been taken away or looted, but then active beliefs in curses, ghosts, etc. may have something to do with it. I’d like the link if you would be so kind. Thank you very much ! Take care of yourself.


  4. Let's CUT the Crap!
    May 11, 2014 @ 12:34:10

    What a side trip this has been for you and us as well. Thanks for sharing. Boggles the mind what secrets live in this place so lovingly tended to. 🙂


  5. FlaHam
    May 11, 2014 @ 16:53:47

    Kanzen, I love roses, my Mom grew them, and cultivated them, and even won several blue ribbons at the Kentucky State Fair, a lifetime ago. She was so proud of them and as kids we were proud when she won. My sense of smell is almost non-existent, and I couldn’t find cow poo unless I stepped in it. But I found your story to be quite beautiful. Thank you, Bill


    • kanzensakura
      May 11, 2014 @ 17:32:44

      Thank you. We had all kinds of roses around the house we grew up in. My papa and my grandmother were the rose growers. I miss smelling some of the fragrant ones very much. My grandmother planted several from rootings from the old rose bush that was near her mother’s grave. It was a pale yellow but smelled like honey. I wish I had some cutting for my yard! Date: Sun, 11 May 2014 20:53:50 +0000 To: thspencer51@hotmail.com


  6. el34ax7
    May 12, 2014 @ 00:03:59

    You so effortlessly take me back to fond memories of childhood. It’s so very なつかしね。 Those sights and smells are so vivid that I could just be there.


    • kanzensakura
      May 17, 2014 @ 20:31:55

      I apologize for taking so long to reply to you. I am glad this post took you to a good place. We’d have both had fun looking at those rose and touching those old stones of that foundation. I know you would not have chattered either! I love these old home places tucked away and lost to everyone but those who have the heart (and nose) to find them.


  7. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.
    May 12, 2014 @ 03:55:42

    I grew up hearing the old wild roses called ‘pasture roses.’ It didn’t really matter where they were. You might find them along a fence in a pasture, near a babbling creek or on ranch property but usually not close to the house. They were beautiful and bloomed the best when ignored and left alone. We’ve lived several places where there’s been wild pasture roses on the property.


  8. SirenaTales
    May 12, 2014 @ 09:46:25

    Oh, my! What a magical and tender journey of a post you have created here. Thank you so much for sharing this soulful, informative and heartwarming tale and lovely images. I swear I can smell the roses’ haunting scent…xxo


  9. wholeproduction
    May 15, 2014 @ 09:33:28

    Reblogged this on WHOLE.


  10. Clowie
    May 23, 2014 @ 11:19:32

    Old places are fascinating, but there’s always a tinge of sadness if they’re deserted.


    • kanzensakura
      May 23, 2014 @ 13:59:24

      It really is that tinge of loneliness as you say. Sabishi is the Japanese word for a wistful loneliness – a tinge of sadness to it but not regret. I stood there for awhile imagining the long gone family and their life there. You would have smelled the roses long before I did! Date: Fri, 23 May 2014 15:19:35 +0000 To: thspencer51@hotmail.com


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