Of barn memories — love the hayloft

September 30, 2015

Summer days I’d ride bike to my friend Wendy Husk’s house about a half mile away and we’d run to the barn, climb the ladder to the hayloft.

A 'brick wall' of hay bales

hay bales may be stacked like bricks to build walls and staircases

     This as I grew up in southeast Minnesota. At first we could hardly fit in the hayloft, as it was stacked solid to the ceiling. Yet by midsummer, many o’ bale was pulled out, making room to arrange them.
     Every bale was a brick that could be used to build walls and stairways. The Husks utilized that. In retrospect I don’t know who arranged the bales to convert the hayloft to our play area — Wendy’s older brother, her parents or farm workers. I didn’t ask, as I was too excited, and engaged in running about the hay bale heaven.
     It consisted of staircases, two to three bales wide. They ascended and descended along a vast expanse of hay bale walls that framed rooms, or “homes.” Each one had an opening where the stairs recessed to allow entrance. We each chose a room to be our “home” — Wendy and I, sometimes others including our friends Jean and Nickie, and Wendy’s sister Julie.
     O yes, a room, so large it could be a home that sufficed splendidly. It had seating in form of single-height bales lined against a wall. At least one wall had a window two bales wide and a few bales high. Enough space to place elbows and peer to passersby climbing the stairs outside. Those rooms were the cat’s meow!
     Speaking of cats, cats on Husks’ property shared the hayloft heaven with us. They, however, sought quietude*, climbing high for privacy.
     While Wendy and I and friends rollicked, called to each other, ran up and down the staircases . We invited each other to each other’s “homes” yet had little success keeping our guests’ interest in staying, because they wanted us to follow them to their home. We at times assigned an extra roomas a restaurant. Yet we didn’t stay long in the “restaurant” either, as none of us volunteered to be waitress.
     Sometime during the summer new kittens appeared. They rollicked among each other, pounced and butted tiny paws, appeared and disappeared between hay bales.
     The ceiling stretched so far above, it was our sky. Wood plank walls brought natural light through crevices. The air accommodated soft scents of hay that was cut long ago, and the twine that tightly wrapped each bale.
     More bales were pulled from the loft to feed nearby horses and livestock. Yet by the time bales needed to be pulled from our hay bale heaven, we were back in school. I realize this in retrospect.
     While Wendy and Jean and I were back to nudging each other in class and reuniting with classmates we hadn’t seen all summer, bales were being pulled from the Husks’ hayloft, to take from our walls and staircases.
     Next summer, when days were longer again, we’d find way back to running about the loft.

      This Vignette is inspired by the upcoming Pioneer Bluffs Fall Festival in Matfield Green, Kansas, celebrating “100 years of barn stories.” The celebration includes welcoming guests to share their own “barn stories.”
     I won’t be able to attend. Yet if I did, this is the barn story I’d share.
     And you?

More information
— Here is the “Jacquée T. Writer in Residence-KANSAS” announcement featuring the Pioneer Bluffs 100th anniversary celebration.

* “quietude” is a Jacquée T. ‘Love for Words’ feature. Find the entry here

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