Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Memory of a Barn

The first time I walked down the hill to the barn, I tipped my head from side to side trying to make sense of the structure.

There was absolutely nothing square or horizontal on the entire building. Some ancient boards were sagging to the left, some were sagging to the right and the old doors and windows seemed ready to fall out of their frames completely.

I didn’t care. I thought it was charming. And I totally disregarded my husband’s idea of throwing some gasoline and a match on it.

For doors that seemed so rickety, they were certainly stuck tight. I pulled and tugged and pulled and tugged and finally collapsed onto the ground when the grimy door hinges pulled away from the rotting wood.

I took a few hesitant steps forward and stopped.

I was enchanted.

Ragged holes in the ceiling allowed beams of light to illuminate the space. Disturbed by the commotion of my dramatic entry, dust motes swirled and glittered through the air.

I sniffed. The space smelled of old, wet hay and damp wood.

The structure was clad in old hand-planed boards. The width of the boards spoke clearly of the age of the building…most were over two feet wide.

Rusted metal relics gleamed in the dust filled air.

A tractor wheel, a beat up old wheelbarrow, some old buckets and pails, an anonymous farm implement almost reduced to a mound of textured red iron oxide.




I tread warily across the floor to a large opening that led to a slant-ceilinged section of the dilapidated building. Large, leathery looking leaves hung on the walls. It took some long moments before I was able to puzzle out that they were tobacco leaves…harvested and forgotten many, many years ago.

In the corner of that section of the barn were three metal buckets. I noticed they were filled with straw but paid little attention to their contents.

Oh my friends, I explored that old barn until my heart was content. More than a few interesting artifacts got dragged up to decorate flower beds or a random window sill.

Because we were busy getting settled, it wasn’t until the following spring that I decided to actually clean the old barn out.

My husband heaved all the windows and doors open and let the fresh spring air breeze through the musty space.

I hauled load after load out to a burn pile, saving particularly beautiful pieces of wood and interesting looking snippets of random metal.

Toward the end of the long, dirty exhausting afternoon I attempted to haul the rusted metal buckets outside as well. Their bottoms collapsed as soon as I tried to pick them up, leaving a spill of gnarled roots tangled in straw on the dirt floor of the barn.

I stood puzzled for a moment until I realized they were iris rhizomes. Many were powdery and dried out, but some were still plump and filled with life.

Gaining a burst of energy in my enthusiasm, I sorted and culled and filled the wheelbarrow with the most hopeful of the roots.

The next day, I excitedly worked up an overgrown perennial bed beside an old shed, forking in wheelbarrow loads of old composted manure I had also rescued from inside the barn.

The rhizomes were planted carefully in their new home and forgotten in the rush of all the chores associated with spring on an old farm.

Until one glorious afternoon when I had a few moments to spare.

I walked to the shed under the huge canopy of the century old buckeye tree and stopped in astonishment.

Not only had the iris rhizomes survived, they were starting to bloom!



I was amazed that something forgotten inside a dark rotting bucket had survived years and years of neglect.

The iris continued to beguile me over the next several weeks…unfurling petals of a particularly charming shade of purple one day and a buttery golden glow the next.


...

Even now on dark and dreary days of the heart, I remember those iris rhizomes…forgotten, neglected and almost discarded.

How amazing it is to remember the message they taught me.

How reassuring to recall that even when all feels lost, there is still the possibility of possibilities waiting to emerge.



This post is linked to Alphabe-Thursday in honor of the letter B. To read other B posts,
just click here.
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34 comments:

Diane said...

What a beautiful blessing!

Slamdunk said...

Excellent story and take home message Jenny. May we all search for those hidden and forgotten treasures.

Cathy Kennedy said...

What a beautifully spun memory of something forgotten long ago resurrected to new life by loving hands of appreciation. The photos are excellent! Thanks for sharing your experienc!

Judie said...

Before my grandparents' house and barn were torn down when the property was sold, I went there and dug up plants, many of them iris, to take home. If I could have, I would have dismantled the stone barbeque pit that my grandfather had built. So many wonderful memories of two people who really loved me.

Maggie said...

Such an interesting post, I could just picture the scene and how wonderful that the flowers bloomed once more for you.

Mama Zen said...

What a marvelous story!

Lola said...

*B*eautiful story!

taylorsoutback said...

Perfectly beautiful story! What a great example of perseverance on all counts.

And such a special message left to you by the person who left those rhizomes. It was meant to be.

Karen S. said...

Oh Jenny, thanks for such a pleasant reminder of those simple wooden structures that really made sense. I believe the scent of tobacco leaves lifted right out of my computer as I read your description. Sadly years from now many of these kinds of memories will be less and less, as even our barn out back is simply a pole (metal) barn. But on one wall there is the memory of somebody who lived here once and had two horses, each name still stands over a hook....the place may be made of metal and little wood, but yes there was a whole lot of living there once! Thanks for sharing one of your deepest memories....

summersundays-jw said...

Loved the story & what a great lesson. If I can just remember it.

upinthecosmos said...

Awesome! I love that you see the beauty where others just see kindle for a big old bonfire! And true beauty at that cause those flowers are fabulous, I do love the iris:-)

Thanks for the comments on my A recipes, I have seen some rossoto recipes, some with asparagus, that I do want to try eventually... they look yummy on the cooking shows:-)

Gattina said...

Love barns and this story is so nice !

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Beautiful Jenny! I need to know that beauty can come from forgotten things.

Amy said...

I love reading your memories Jenny. You are talented and a blessing to me!

Emille said...

What a pleasant surprize! And the irises are lovely!

Sue said...

I love it when you was lyrical, Jenny. And I love the message here, too.

=)

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

Pretty amazing that they lived to bloom another day. A good lesson learned.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love this story! The iris are so pretty. I can just see you discovering them.

Nezzy said...

Darlin' ya drug this farm chick right into that old barn with ya. I could almost smell the damp musky barn smell and feel the dust in the air.

A most wonderfully told story Miss Jenny and an heartfelt message to boot. What a bonus!

God bless and have a glorious day sweetie!!! :o)

beckyp said...

what a beautiful memory

Ms. A said...

I have many fond memories of my grandfather's barn, that now belongs to my sister and me, yet is about a thousand miles away. I love to explore it, if I could have time to go up there and wasn't afraid it would fall down on me.

Brenda said...

A wonderful story. Loving where you are going with your Thursday posts.

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Hi Jenny,
What a lovely story, you are such a great writer, you make a story so very interesting. Enjoyed it very much, and when I was a kid we had an
old abandoned barn too, that we used to play in all the time. What fun we had, and I too, was enchanted by it.

So glad you came over to see the Wedding pictures.....we were so delighted with how they all came out, they had the best photographer on the Island, so they were told.
Seems so to me anyway............

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods, and thanks for your sweet comments, so nice to hear from you hon.

Blessings, Nellie

Mary said...

I love old barns..your story was left me wanting to know more about the old barn...

Cheryl D. said...

Wow! That was an amazing post! A++++++++++++++++++++

J. Kwiatkowski-Schuler said...

All it takes is someone with the right sort of eye. If it were me, I wouldn't have known that they were rhizomes, I'd have thrown them out and all would be lost. Or I'd be trying to digging them out once they started growing in the compost pile and I figure out what I did, as was often the case with my terrible gardening.

storybeader said...

some things just get better with age. You may have to separate them, but perennials are one of those things. But what happened to the barn!? {:-Deb

H said...

There is something attractive and totally appealing about old barns, whether they be of wood or stone construction.

Great moral to your fable!

Annesphamily said...

I love old barns! We took a trip to Durango here in Colorado last year and my phamily was tired of all my barn photos! Ha Ha! I love them! Hugs Anne

Steph said...

Tender. Sweet and Beautiful.

I think this should be published.

Thanks for sharing your gift.

Steph said...

Tender. Sweet and Beautiful.

I think this should be published.

Thanks for sharing your gift.

anitamombanita said...

This was beautiful. I love old barns and the treasures they hide. There are lots of them where I live and I've been slowly but surely getting permission to snoop around and photograph them.

I missed the posting deadline for Alphabe-Thursday this week...feel free to stop by, tho... :)

Andy said...

Hello.
The flowers are beautiful (purple & yellow are two of my favorite colors). You should be proud that you gave life back to these withered flowers that were patiently awaiting loving hands to bring them back to life.

Wonderful post Jenny.
Thanks for sharing.

Seasons Of Beauty

myorii said...

Oh, I love this story! Just the way you described the barn with all the details...it made me wish I had a barn to explore too! And what a lovely way to end this memory :) I just love how flowers bloomed despite the state of the bulbs when they were found. The message of this story is amazing too :) Can't wait to see what you have in store for 'C'!