“Life is good when your best memories were made in the barn.” –Unattributed
My cousin posted this saying on Facebook recently and it got an immediate reaction from my sister and from me.
We know about barns. And farms. And memories. And a wonderful place to be a child.
The farm belonged to my paternal grandparents and Sangers had been on that land since the late 1700s.
The farm was a perfect place to ramble for hours, with no supervision, and the barn seems to have been the center of our activities.
I remember climbing a vertical ladder set into the wall, up into the haymow, and not being able to get down until my grandmother came from the house to help me.
I remember running away from home with a bandana tied to a stick, like I had seen on TV, and running as far as the milk house before I got hungry and went to the house for a sour cream cookie.
I remember swinging on a rope from one section of the haymow to another, above the head (and horns) of the bull tethered below.
I remember my sister singing and dancing for the milk cows, a captive audience, whose heads were held by stanchions until the milking was done.
I remember innumerable sleepovers in the haymow, with girl cousins, listening to the radio and talking about boys.
I remember waking up in the early morning of one of those sleepovers. The barn cat’s kittens were at that playful age where they demanded attention. One was batting at my face. The radio was on, “Hey, Jude” was playing, and dust motes of hay swirled in the early sun. And I knew life was good.
My memories aren’t momentous; they don’t make for dramatic story telling. But they make me.
The bluegrass band, The Gibson Brothers, grew up on a farm very near the Sanger farm. They, too, know about farms and memories and make the point better than I can:
They build them bigger now
They’ve got more land, they’ve got more cows,
Maybe they have found a better way.
It’s hard to say.
But I miss that old farm of yesterday.
I think memories make a man what he will always be,
And I’m not sure what I am trying to say.
But if there’s anything that I can add to this old world,
It’s thanks to that old farm of yesterday.
The farm is in sad shape these days–not in the family any longer, abandoned. But in my memories, and those of my sister and cousins, it’s still a magical place. Our farm of yesterday.