Have you ever poked around in an old barn? There’s something fulfilling in the way it courts you with its smells and textures. It’s a different world, one where fantasies are possible and old stories hang in the air, waiting to be told. There are cobwebs and birds’ nests in the rafters, crunchy hay and straw and corn underfoot.

There’s also something hopeful about an old barn, as if it knows that its purpose is not fulfilled in its present state. It’s waiting. There’s an expectation in the air, that in the old experiences of cows and sheep and horses and people there is a hope for the ultimate satisfaction in seeing its useful life reinstated.

Our barn seems happy of late. It went from being empty and hopeful to being the home for a flock of sheep. With the sheep came bales of sweet-smelling hay the size of VW Beetles. The swallows that fill the barn with the scolding and swooping in the summer now have company, and probably an increase in bug buffet options too. The smell has morphed from a musty dusty has-been to the slightly bitter tang of sweat and urine, with the delicious overtones of hay and corn and sheep smell. The sheep make a variety of noises that fill the barn with a cacophony at feeding and a soft rumbling at night. When they’re out on the pasture, the waiting is in the air.

The swallows have been joined by a cat, who we didn’t name at first because we thought she was wild and would disappear. She has, however, apparently chosen her home and even lets us pet her when Petie, the enemy of all barn cats, is nowhere near. Usually you can see her perched high on the hay bales, near the rafters. We have never fed her, but she’s fat nevertheless. I try not to think about all the critters it takes to make her that fat! 🙂

In the hay mow, which is a loft on the second story, there’s an adventure waiting to happen for someone who’s the right age. Often when I’m in the barn, I wonder just what kinds of stories I would have experienced in that mow. You have to be careful, because there are holes in the floor in a couple of places, from where the roof used to leak. There’s a window, and the view out is worthy of ladders and eye-patches and backpacks full of snacks. I can imagine myself doing homework in the loft, even with the poor lighting, and having the barn’s ambiance make me somehow brilliant and insightful. I can imagine planning escapades that would begin in the barn and end with a trek to the abandoned railroad track that borders the pasture. Although I am not sure yet how to encourage my children to share this sort of excitement with me, I can’t wait to observe them as they discover the barn and its many delights.