Monday, March 20, 2006

Why live in a barn: Some background

As a native of New England, barns have always been a part of the fabric of the land in which I grew up - ubiquitous reminders of a not-too-distant era when fields and pastures dominated the countryside and life was punctuated by the rituals of planting and harvesting, haying and the storing of hay in generous lofts. On family trips to the Catskills in New York each summer we would pass mile after mile of forgotten fields where old barns leaned on their foundations. Our summer destination had a small-ish barn. I mostly recall the sound of the swallows who darted in and out and perched on the power lines arcing over the back lawn. My father practically grew up in barns. From an early age he regaled my brother and I with stories of secret clubs, concealed passageways, rope swings, and uncounted adventures within the protective breadth of soaring timbers and haylofts.

Barns have always filled me with a sense of wonder and adventure. They make me want to climb, explore, lie on my back in a pile of fragrant hay and gaze up to the rafters where the swallows dart and wheel. I like the way the light slants through numerous cracks in the walls and picks up on the dust suspended in the air; I like the solid muscularity of massive timbers aged to a honey-brown; I like the feeling of history in a barn: season after season of steadfast service, untold number of children who played within on rainy days, and the sense of permenance against the rapidly changing backdrop of society. I definitely have a kind of nostalgia about barns. They represent shelter, longevity, durability...even loyalty.

Nostalgia not withstanding, does LIVING in a barn logically follow?

10 comments:

david ronka said...

Ben - I love your barn prose -- made me feel like I was in one! Great introduction - pulls me in. Can't wait to see the project progress!

David

Ben said...

Thanks, Dave. You have the distinction of being the first to comment on our blog!

Katie L. Sparkman said...

Can't wait to hear more this weekend! Great idea- the barn, the blog, love it all. Definately have some friends who will love this.
Katie

Katie L. Sparkman said...

Love the blog, the barn, the whole idea. Especially love the idea that your kids will have their own great stories that keep us all captivated time and time again. Good Luck!

John said...

Now am I going crazy or did Susi also express interest at some point before she met you of living in an old barn??

John said...

I can already see Asher in his overalls with a piece of hay hanging out of his mouth, lying in a pile of hay, breathing heavy from chasing his brother and sisters in a game of hide and seek. Will you be building a real barn on the property? I am so excited for all of you!! john

Ben said...

Thanks everyone - great comments. Keep in touch!

Ben

Michele Shire said...

I enjoyed reading through your blog. Thanks, Michele Shire

Anonymous said...

There are many things distinctive in old barns. One not yet mentioned is "smells". You sense these when you enter an old, abandoned or little used barn. They are the aromas of dust from the hayloft or threshing floor, the scent of old hay still remaining in the corners, of harness leather and tractor oil, and even manure,desicated though it may be. On a rainy day there is a wonderful musty smell, a counterpoint to the patter of drops on the old roof. And if the barn retains its tie-up - the cow shed where tie rope may have given way to stanchions (look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls!) To hold the cows in place during milking - the inner edges of their verticals worn glassy smooth by years of rubbing from the bovine necks as they reached down for hay, grain and water while the milk was harvested. More later, You know Who.

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