this is a short piece about one of my favourite places, my Aunt's ranch.
|Barns are thought to be red with white trim. They are supposed to be full of pure bred, well-trained horses, guarded by grazing cattle, surrounded by lush, green grass. This one is different.
Our fathers collected the wood from wherever they could get it. They nailed it together and eventually formed four walls. Instead of making a rain resistant tin roof, they decided that it would be cheaper to use tarmac. The barn itself is an assortment of different colors. It is full of browns, beige's and grays, and if you look closely or run your hands along its sides, you will feel tiny knotholes that are beginning to own the wood.
The inside of the barn is constantly changing. When we were kids, there were five stalls and a tack room. An old seat from a van sat inside, gathering dust and full of grooming supplies thrown nonchalantly onto it. Opposite that there has always been about six horseshoes nailed to the outside of a stall. On it hangs halters, lead shanks and ropes. Inside the tack room the smell of old leather and saddle soap constantly lingers in the air. The window is broken and has been for as long as I can remember. It is a popular spot for dust to congregate. My Uncle's tools sit unused on a shelf next to the windowsill, no one has the heart to remove them. Adjacenet to the window, bridles and boiselles hang down, touching dirt covered saddles. Sun shines through the window, and we watch as the dust dances in the light, resting on our faces and clothes.
Back in the open barn, loose dirt plays around our feet. In the summer, we used to chase each other through the barn in bare feet, dodging hooves and manure. The once five-stall barn has now transformed into three. A double stall for the mares in foal, two for other horses, and one for storage. Cats run anxiously along the rafters, looking for mice beneath the blankets that have been bundled and tossed up there. Behind the van seat, a plank lifts up, revealing two cat food dishes.
After reminiscing about the transitions the barn has made in our short lives, we sit down on the steps leading into the tack room and wait. We wait for Uncle Terry to walk through the big wooden door, spurs hitting his huge, leather boots, leading some horse in need of breaking. We wait for Aunt Melinda to do the same with a smile on her face, praising the world rather than cursing it. We wait for Tyrell to come tearing out of the barn with Steve, BB gun in hand, searching for something to shoot. We wait for my mom and dad to pull up in our old blue truck, anticipating a visit. For our horse to return home from Washington, foal at her side. For our reflections to cease standing still and move towards the future. We sit and inevitably face what is beyond these barn doors. Endless pastures and animals waiting to be fed. Lost friends and fathers; unahppy families. Our internal instinct tells us to stay lost in the barn forever, splintering our fingers against the rough wood, listening silently to the nickering of horses. We watch stray hairs swirl around our legs, and we get up and close the barn doors.