Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Of Barns and Seasons

The angles, timbers, shape and underpinnings of the old bank barn always delight, and they give me food for thought, a heaping teaspoon of much needed humility, a sense of my own smallness in the greater scheme of things.

This is the view from the west, a wall of oak planks with its topmost winch for pulling hay into the loft and later lowering it into the stalls below, the old tin roof and its lightening rods, the branches of a guardian winter tree, a few clouds, the gray sky behind giving some thought to turning blue on a chill morning in March.

I marvel at the gargantuan hemlock and cedar posts hewed out by hand more than a century ago, shaped and fitted into place by an unknown pioneer handcrafting a place of shelter — the old oak planks forming the walls — the curving roof and rough stone foundation of the structure. I think of generations of farmers and horses wending their way home after a hard day spent tilling the rocky scraps of steep field above the barn and enfolding it — I think of the many thousands of sunrises, moonrises and starry nights which this place has witnessed, of the countless seasons it has seen come and go — I think of the red fox and her children who live in a den on the hill behind the granary.

I call my old barn "the Lady", and she always seems to be standing in a strong clear light, a wise teacher who has important lessons to impart to a somewhat gormless twentieth century crone. She (Barn) leans gently and effortlessly into the hills of her native place, and her stalwart muscular contours mirror the rugged landscape of the holding on which she was raised so many years ago.

Silvered by time and sculpted by the winds, Barn endures on her rolling timeless slope in a fold of the Lanark highlands, and so shall I in one form or another: a leaf, a pebble, a tree, a clear meandering stream. This is another one of those lessons I strive to remember and am always forgetting.

7 comments:

the wild magnolia said...

Wonderful words of the old barn and the woods used to construct a useful building left standing for these many years. They remind us that old can sometimes be good.

cindee said...

My favorite place to play, when I was a tadpole, was in the barn. It smelled wonderful, was filled with many nooks and crannies to explore, usually had some type of animal in it to play with and if we were very good, our grandfather would let us make a fort from some of the haybales. Every time I see a barn now, I get very nostalgic. You are lucky to have your "Lady".
Cindee

cindee said...

My favorite place to play, when I was a tadpole, was in the barn. It smelled wonderful, was filled with many nooks and crannies to explore, usually had some type of animal in it to play with and if we were very good, our grandfather would let us make a fort from some of the haybales. Every time I see a barn now, I get very nostalgic. You are lucky to have your "Lady".
Cindee

Anonymous said...

My favorite barn stands here in Kentucky. She leans slightly to the left and has a few ribs showing. I've watched a small fox play in and out of her shelter, at ease, yet watchful and present.

Tabor said...

Rock walls and rock paths call to me rather than wood. Probably because of the rock work so well known from Italy. I love the way you take a simple (and very well done) photo and bring it even more into the limelight with words. It reminded me of our loft in our barn which was not used much but which we played in for several years.

One Woman's Journey said...

Reminds me of all the old barns I see as I drive the country roads surrounding my small town. They have stories to tell. Sad that many are now neglected. Beautiful entry.

looking for beauty said...

I think often on the pioneers and the sheer effort that they put out to create their living spaces for both man and domesticated animals.
When you think of each plank being hand hewn, ditto for each post and beam, it boggles our coddled minds.
There was such a different spirit in the land of those times. While we have so much more academic learning, we have diminished in such things as fortitude, willing interdependence, cooperation, community spirit,self-reliance, endurance.
As I dig into my family's history, I see that life has changed so hugely for all of us. It is good in many ways but I get nostalgic for others.
Mind you, if I was now doing as our women did in those days, I'd still be ironing, cooking, making butter, making clothes, etc. and not having this glorious leisure to write, photograph and paint.
How gracious and welcoming your barn looks. Thanks for your thoughts on Her. It unleashed some of mine, thinking of those who built these things and the way they lived.
K