When I was a child I always looked forward to visiting my grandparents at the homeplace. The homeplace was a once, working farm in Nash County, where my dad and his siblings spent their childhood.
When I was young, my grandparents no longer worked the land, but the farm still produced crops mostly maintained by other family members. The homeplace was littered with memories of a working farm, buildings and barns and old farm equipment, but the barns no longer echoed the sounds of livestock.
I have vivid memories of playing in hay lofts and exploring the many corners of the delapitated buildings. My imagination would take me back to a time when those old barns were filled with animals of the cute and cuddly kind. As a young girl who's image of a perfect world involved horses of every breed, I especially enjoyed stories of my dad's good old black stallion, Black Beauty.
I would listen in awe as my dad told me how this horse was just like the one in the book, wild and crazy and all his. I remember wishing I had my own Black Beauty. Alas, I was left to my imagination, standing in the old barn, peering into the stall once housing a magnificant animal. Running my fingers over the wood and dreaming of what it was like to brush the long mane of an animal I only knew from my father's stories.
The barn held memories that were not my own but those of generations of farmers. As a young girl I dreamed of furry animals and fresh hay, horses and cute little pigs. How different would I imagine that barn now?
Although I no longer think much about horses, I do imagine a barn filled with animals. Working animals. Mooing, oinking food. Animals who serve the same purpose as those who lived in that barn long ago. No longer does my imagination take me to the barn of my childhood, it takes me to the place I want to build my life and provide for my family. A place of hard work and satisfaction.
Imagining myself standing now in my grandparent's old barn, the scene is quite different than what I dreamed of long ago. An old and crumbling barn, years of dust settled into the cracks, still breathing with the wind. Memories of hard work and sweat are etched into the wood.
The stall, once holding that magnificent horse would still be there, but would no longer remind me of the horse I always wanted. It would be a reminder of a time when farming was a necessity and hard work was commonplace.
A time when sustainability was a way of life. A place where rewards were in the form of satisfaction in a hard day's work. Where the simple joys in life where all that mattered. A place where after a long day's work, a young image of my father would trod into the barn and jump on the back of his wild and crazy horse and take off down the long dirt road.