Yellow-gray vertical boards form clean, crisp, symmetrical lines. The side entrance now stands permanently open, with the door missing. The windows, too, remain open, but it is difficult to view the interior, due to the slope of the land.
The worn, gravel drive swoops around a sharp curve, then climbs upward once again to the main entrance. The huge double doors hang from rusted horseshoe shaped hinges in a permanently open position.
Even in the emptiness, the huge building offers warmth and shelter beyond the obvious physical barriers. The boards beneath my feet are worn from the century plus years of tread by my ancestors and their beloved animals.
A straight row of small, square-cut glass projects a radiant, unearthly appearing glow, as the particles of dust drift slowly through the shaft of sunlight, in the slight movement of air. As the wind blows more forcefully, a piece of straw and a feather drift to the floor, before my feet.
To the left, the stanchions hang as empty memorials of days now past. The straight stalls of the plow horses now hold only pieces of brittle harness. The only inhabitants are a frightened, abandoned cat and her new litter of kittens.
Daily I place the food in the walkway behind the stanchions and, as I sing timeless melodies from what she considers to be a safe distance, the yellow and white cat emerges from below a broken board to feast. She watches with great wariness, but allows the distance between us to narrow by inches each day. A car on the highway above backfires and … she is gone until tomorrow.
Back to the great open entry, I pull wide the door to my favorite shelter. The large box stall, with its hand-hewn manger and square, open window, lead the imagination to conjure up the vision of the family’s carriage horse.
The Sunday sleigh is now covered with pigeon manure, but the eyes of a horse-crazy girl see only the sleigh in its prime. I move to the corner to peep into the now-empty silo. I gaze upward to see a few flakes of the first snow drift downward, only to melt before they reach the bottom. Pigeons coo from their perch near the top, as they huddle together.
I close the door to the stall and wander back through the main corridor. The old hay truck rests in its haven from the weather. I climb onto the flatbed via the ladder to the haylofts on smooth rungs. The ladder is built into the structural supports of the building. The loose hay makes a cozy nest.
In the emptiness of my beloved barn I find a peace that is nowhere else to be found. As if I were born in the wrong time and place, here, in some eerie way, I find comfort.
And, as I drift off to sleep in my favorite fortress from a world that can be cruel, I dream…