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Life and Deterioration Together


This is part of an abandoned building, a house, I believe. It sits just west of the Castoro Winery vineyards on California Highway 46 West. I have driven by it for decades, but I’ve never been able to learn its story or why it’s been left to crumble. The windows are gone, as are most of the doors. Some walls are completely gone. It would be dangerous to enter the building. I walked all the way around it to take photos and was shocked to see how little I’d been able to notice as I drove by it.

At one time it must have been someone’s home, full of people and life. Perhaps an earthquake destroyed it. I’ll never know. What I do know is that it is now not fit for human habitation. It is no longer suitable for its intended purpose. If you look inside the missing doors and windows it’s hard to imagine people sitting inside at the dinner table or cooking a meal.


Way back when, someone planted the almond tree. It, too, is old. I imagine any fruit it may still bear goes to the birds. It appears the deer have also stripped some of its bark away. Yet it still lives, even as it deteriorates. As spring approaches, it still blooms. I saw a bee pollinating one of the blossoms. If a freeze doesn’t kill the blossoms, the tree may yet produce its almonds.

It is still a living thing, striving to do what it was meant to do, even though there is no longer a farmer to appreciate or care for it. But the bees and the deer appreciate it. When the almonds finally appear, the tree will be alive with birds and squirrels wanting to reap its scant harvest. Though it is old, it still keeps fulfilling its purpose.

I hope I will do the same now that I am old. I want to be the tree — not the house. I want to keep being useful to someone even as I deteriorate.

Words and photo © B. Radisavljevic

What do you think?

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  1. You know, it always amazed me about abandoned houses and other buildings. Why they stay that way for years and years. Whatever the situation was when either people left, had to leave for whatever reason, or a business just left. Wouldn’t you think that someone or some organization would look into these buildings? I mean, it seems like such a waste of property. And even if no other structure was erected there, something could be done with the land they sit on. But the tree, well, yes, that is something of amazement. it lives on providing food and nourishment for whatever wild life exists in the area. Yeah, I would like to be the tree as well. But sometimes I feel like the abandoned house.

      • Thank you. Yeah, I don’t want to be the building. I need some motivation on my end. I want to get my apartment fixed up but the money is just not there. And working online with sites like this is not going to make that happen if you know what I mean. I was thinking about a GoFundMe page. I see people doing that all over the internet.

        • The problem is that you will be competing with people who are trying to pay off the medical expenses of loved ones or keep from being evicted. Not only that, but few people are ready to send funds to people they don’t know in the real world. Most people I know online are people like me who are just struggling to get their own bills paid. They can’t afford the improvements they need to make to their own homes or apartments.

          • Yeah, I understand that. But I have not decided to make a go fund me page. I might not. I am thinking of other ways to earn money. I will eventually figure that one out, I hope.

  2. Thanks for this post, Im aware there are so many homeless, this home could be rebuilt and used for those who need it. Its sad we live in a time that wastes the resources.
    You could probably use the almonds from that tree and perhaps a branch may be grafted onto another tree and propagate the tree on to another tree.

  3. ? that was a really awesome story you wrote, & I hear just what you
    were saying in it too, which I have that talent that visions what I read. ?
    I would like to think we are every tree in the world that bears fruit & as
    we grow older we still have as much life as we can till it’s all used up.

  4. I have posts dedicated to old and abandoned houses. I have always wondered what happened to the owners and what is the reason to leave home. I liked comparisons in your position. There was one such house filled with beautiful flowers that hid the ruin. And I was curious how these colors each year without any care are still alive.

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