Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sense of place

These pictures were taken a couple weeks ago, when I was checking on ewes during lambing. The barn at night is a kingdom of it's own, with an internal hierarchy and sense of order. I have nothing to do with a lot of that - it is a world unknown to me on many levels but one I am always intrigued by. Like a voyeur sitting in the back of a darkly lit party room, I like the chance to sneak a peek at what really goes on in there when no one can see me lurking.

There's a spookiness about night visits to the barn. For me, any barn visit in the dark reminds me of trauma- for that is usually the only time one need to go to a barn at night. The door is opened and forms scurry upon seeing the two footed mass holding a flashlight. The horse knickers, always, when I enter the barn. This is comforting on so many levels. Some of that I believe is primordial, or perhaps I'm intertwined on a sensory level to a time when I lived a life on a horse or as a horse. I don't really know - I just know I believe what my Uncle Clayton said, "You're either born 'horse', or you're not. You were born 'horse'." I took this as an honor, coming from him, a horse whisperer before it became hip to be one.

When we first moved tot he farm, the barn smells reminded me of many childhood memories from Uncle Clayton's or other places I'd grown up. And memories of my past come still come into each day - this is not a bad thing- it is like a book: there's a cover, a table of contents, and many chapters. Some of the pages are earmarked- it's nice to go back and visit passages from time to time. You read those old passages years later, and a different perspective brings different lessons, or 'wow" moments.

But my barn has become part of my current thumbprint and the events, sensations, creatures, smells and sounds within that barn are very specific to my life now, not my life of memories. While the two are some what intertwined, I am creating, along with Martyn and a cast of characters, my own sense of place. It's what everyone is really striving for - a sense of place. Some seem to search entire lives, and never find it, or they never settle on the book in front of them, they just keep looking. Or they think they want another person's sense of place, and they live vicariously through that person's online persona.

Sense of place does not come without self dialogue, and then a blueprint to get there. It can take a life time, or in my case a half a life time, to get there. And it's not a final destination - for me anyway. My sense of place, within the boundary lines of this farm, is an organic creature of it's own. I get up each day and make things happen that are meaningful to me, I try to be a good person with all the flaws lining my pockets, I work hard, I keep my eyes open for predators on the ground or lurking in a cyber forest. I'm very aware things happen in a life that can muddle a sense of place, or shake it, or destroy it.

So when I'm in the barn, it's about as grounded as I can get. I won't take it for granted, even on my grumpy days, when Frankie has just knocked over a bucket of feed.