Views from the street: Richfield in October

Views from the street: Richfield in October

I have a special place in my heart for the suburbs. They're host to families of multiple generations. They're the places where children grow up, walk to school, play outside on warm summer nights. Dogs get to know the 'hood, cats monitor the other cats, and squirrels know which yards are free of pets. In Minnesota, neighbors shovel each other's sidewalks after snowstorms and share split hostas in the summer. Everyone works their own modest plot of land, creating living spaces how they like them. In Richfield, there are equal amount of privacy fences as their are friends.

I walk the dog and make eyes from the curb with a camera around my neck. On some days the streets are terribly beautiful. There's something about the size of the lots, the variation of landscaping, or lack thereof, paired with gangly trees, 40-year-old bushes, driveways, ancient basketball hoops. Remnants of life lay about, even though I don't see a soul on some walks. I see boys' bicycles in the front yard, and pieces of wood from a ramp they were trying to put together. I see a wheelbarrow and pair of gloves in a driveway. I see a "berries for picking" sign on a row of raspberry bushes. I see the start of Christmas lights going up. I see an open garage with a radio on and legs sticking out from underneath a car. I see for sale signs, moving trucks.

In different seasons, different homes come to life.

We've lived in our neighborhood for five years now and I'm still not tired of it. The area was developed from farmland back in the late 1940s, after World War II. Our own house was built in 1949. Many homes are single story, modestly sized with single-car garages built as cars became more common.

Some of this I learned from a neighbor named Leo (fake name, you know, to protect privacy) who stopped us on a walk one time. He pulled up next to us in his Ford pickup truck to ask about our dog, Tonks. Leo was boisterous, loud, full of stories. In that first conversation he told us about the origins of the neighborhood and invited us for a beer: "the house is a wreck and I'm doing work to clean it out, but the beer in the fridge is cold!"

Leo grew up in Richfield and his parents were original landowners, having sold their farmland to developers. They settled back in the neighborhood after houses were built and lived there for around 70 years. When his parents passed, Leo moved into the house to take care of it, go through their belongings, update the home, etc.

But a few weeks ago I heard the sad news that Leo passed away. I didn't know him well enough to know why he passed—he was only in his 60s—but it may have been from previous illness.

Then, last week, we saw an estate sale sign and realized it had Leo's address on it. When drove up, we saw the Norwegian flag flew at half-staff while neighbors stopped to talk and peruse over Leo's dad's collection of tools for sale.

Though I take this type of photograph often, from the street looking on a front drive, I don't usually know much about the residents. I'm just admiring the view. Taking this picture of Leo's house was different. While I usually peep at vegetation and dramatic evening skies against vinyl siding and concrete, take images of what seems commonplace, what is actually happening is that I'm photographing snapshots in time of parts of people's lives, most all of whom will never see the photographs.

Every once in awhile someone's front yard puts their day-to-day on public display, like at Leo’s.

As for the rest of the images in this post, it was the trees that caught my attention. The neighborhood is alive with color.

If you'd like to see more, check out the lookbook, other blog posts, or peruse prints for sale.

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