Don't panic, it's not my house. This house is up the street and around the corner from my apartment building.
Today, I decided to go on a little photo shoot. I am madly in love with textures of any kind, and a burned out shell of a house turned out to be a treasure chest of images. (full photo set here. )
It was blazingly hot as I approached the house, but I could feel a cool breeze coming from the dark interior. Tall grass and wildflowers competed with the remains of the garden along the walk up, with lazy bumble bees droning about. The smell of linden blossoms and clover was so thick in the air that it tasted like honey on my tongue.
The house has stood empty for many years. It had no scent of it's own. No charcoal or soot scent, or even mildew or mold. I seemed oddly antiseptic. There was no sign of kids partying or vagrants squatting, either. Aside from a couple of tiny spiders, the place was completely deserted. The house stands on a large corner lot, quite separate from it's neighbors, with large laurel and rose hedges all around. I could have been in another country, or on Mars.
As I stepped into the cool, dark interior, it occurred to me that I hadn't told anyone where I was or what I was doing. Part of me thought that it was a stupid thing to do - what if I got hurt? Another voice chimed in that if I had told anyone, they'd just tell me not to go because it might be dangerous. To heck with that! I figured I had my cell phone with me, and that would just have to be good enough.
I stomped my feet each step ahead of me before I put my full weight down, in case the floor boards decided to give in. There was a full basement under me, and I didn't particularly want to end up down there. Some areas were blocked by debris, but by going around back I could reach just about all parts of the house. It was a very small, very badly laid out 1930's starter home, what a realtor would call a "cottage". It was probably sorta cute when it was new.
The location was amazing, the view from the back porch stretched all the way across Rainier Valley and beyond. I walked gingerly through the thick layer of charcoal and plaster dust on the ground, being very careful not to disturb anything. The house had the sacred feel of an Indian burial ground or a crime scene, or maybe a cathedral. I knew that I would only want to take pictures of things as I found them, not in any posed sort of way. The house rewarded me for my respect.
When I felt like I had seen enough for this trip, it was like being full from a huge buffet. The sights, sounds, textures, details were so filling. I knew that I couldn't just walk straight back to my apartment, so I took the long way around and photographed flowers along the way. (I'll save the flowers for another post.) The whole experience was simply delicious.