Friday, March 5, 2010

In The Old Barn

Today I walked into the old barn. I sat on the wall of the pens where the lambs hung close to the ewes, smelling the grain in the bins, drawn into a trance watching the dust laden spider webs hanging from the loft. The old ladder clings to the side of one of the pens its rungs climbing to the loft that is too rickety to walk on.

I walked to the middle of the barn past the cow stall. In the corner a barn board is missing. I can stick my head out to chat with my horse who comes over for me to pat her head and to swat the fat horseflies away from her eyes. As I turn around I see the old scale where the tobacco bales are weighed, the rack where the tobacco is removed from the lathe and the old blue barrel slowly deteriorating against the wall. It smells of dirt and dust, of tobacco leaves and cigar smoke.

I pull open the old door leading into the tobacco shed. The old steamer stove sits in the corner of the shed with the water cauldron rusted and empty. Dust hangs in the corners and the windows are cracked open. One is broken. The dirt has been well trodden here from the many winters of stripping tobacco. If I listen closely, I can still hear Aunt Welma, Uncle Bob, Mom and Dad laughing as they work. Gene smokes his cigar as he lifts me to the top of the tobacco in the long bale trough.

The siding in the back part of the barn is broken leaving holes where rabbits and sometimes ground hogs find their way in. Dad’s tools are stored here. I can walk out of the back and be at the end of the lane leading to the creek bottom.

The old cement horse trough sits at the south end of the barn. When I was small, I remember putting my feet into the water. It stood long after the barn was torn down.

I love going back to Neff Road. The barn is gone as are the memories for future generations. Yet I can return whenever I wish. I grew up loving the smell of that barn, the old grey wood and the dirt floor. I loved the time spent there with my dad, the baby lambs, the calf I raised and the horse I rode.

Two pieces of the old barn rest against my wall. They are probably a decorator’s nightmare, but a farm girl’s pieces of art, art with meaning.

Well, I guess I’m back from Neff Road and need to get on with my day. It was a nice visit. Maybe we’ll go back again soon.

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