I fell in love with the old barn across the driveway when we moved here last summer. They didn’t use it anymore except to store stuff and the kids were given permission to play there. Baby dog used it to catch rats and the cats used it to play and catch mice. Everybody that visited used it as a place to take great pictures.
I used it for moments of silence in my otherwise very noisy life. Somewhere during all of this, a part of my imagination that I had left behind in the process of growing up was restored to me. The part that reminded me how to look beyond what is seen and imagine what used to be, or what could have been. The world of joy that comes from simply imagining. This world has the capability of giving anything new life. The kind of life that children give to their toys, to their imaginary friends, to their pets. The kind of life that restores a sense of wonder in the world around you.
I’m thankful that we moved here before they burned the old barn down. I didn’t want them to. I cried about it on several occasions. I could say I cried because of my pregnancy hormones but that wouldn’t be true. I cried because it felt like I was losing an old friend. I cried because of the loss of history and because all of the smells would be gone.
Have you ever gone into an old barn and even though there aren’t any animals in it you can still smell them? Not in a bad way. I guess its more like the smells of all the things that are associated with animals. Hay, leather, old wood and some that you’re not sure what they are, but they somehow fit there. I love those smells. To me they are peaceful.
Smell has the power to transport you to another time. It was easy to picture the farmer bringing in his milk cows in the morning, the dog running after him enjoying the early morning spring air, while the barn cat watched from her bed in the loft above hoping for some spilled milk, her litter of kittens mewing beside her. Or the team of draft horses in their places, munching on their morning ration of oats while the rancher harnessed them up for another cold morning of feeding in the far pasture. Their breath coming out in cold puffs of air that smelled sweet like the grain. The rancher’s son watching, stomping his feet to keep them warm and wishing for once that he was still too small to join dad for this particular chore.
I have many vivid memories, and none of them are mine. For all I know they never happened, but the smells told me they could have and therefore I choose to believe that they did. The barn is now gone and with it the smells, but it brought back to me this part that I had forgotten and for that I’m thankful.
Enjoy it while its there, learn from it while you can and when its gone remember it with fondness. As a friend of mine reminded me, we all have to be burned down for the new to be built. It can be painful yes, but if you learned from the old, then the new will be that much better.