Some of my fondest memories take place in the barn that belonged to my family when I was growing up. Yesterday, getting organized for The Fiction Project, I was looking through old photos to find pictures of the old family farm. I found some decent shots, but I largely lamented that digital cameras weren't around twenty years ago.
Our barn was very different from this one. Faded brown boards and more roof than wall. Rustic and beautiful in its own way.
I spent hours in the upstairs of that barn, playing and working in the haymow. In the summer months, wagon after wagon stacked with hay bales would pull up to the barn door. We would clamber up the stacks and start tossing bales. I got pretty good at it: grab twin, position against hip, toss. Depending on the year, some of those bales weighed as much as one hundred pounds. Proper leverage and necessity meant that you tossed them off the wagon as easily as you did a forty pound bale.
I always tried to get a position in the wagon. Otherwise, you were in the mow, catching bales and stacking them in rows as tightly as possible. As the hay got stacked higher and higher, the temperatures would rise and the sweat would pour off you.
It wasn't all about work, however. I built so many forts in the barn, taking bale after bale of hay and arranging them into caves and houses and mazes. I would spend hours in there, either with my siblings or with friends, playing house or Scooby Doo or Nancy Drew depending on who was there with me.
I remember a time when we tried to build a suspension bridge out of the twine we used to bind the bales. To say that it was a monumental failure would be an understatement.
I miss those days. I never thought I would. But I miss them...