Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Barn

I love barns. I grew up on a farm, so barns evoke so many intense memories for me. Barns are beautiful structures, and a disappearing part of our built heritage. But for today, this very hot day, I just want to look at them. I especially want to look at them with piles of snow in their driveways and drifts of snow on their fields, and a sparkling icing of snow on their roofs.

The great Eric Arthur wrote a book called The Barn in 1972. Sadly, many more barns were standing, and many more of them were working, 39 years ago. One quote from the book resonates: "nothing remains so vivid in the mind of man (sic) as childhood memories of the barn, of...listening in the mow to the hooting of the owl, the acrobatic display of swallows and the echoing beating of pigeons' wings". I remember the vastness of the hay mow - a small child's glimpse of infinity.

I think I will write more about barns later. Today I just want to think of them in the winter, their beams snapping with the cold, their stables warm with the steamy sweet breath of dairy cows, and outside, sharp cold and the crunch of boots in the snow.

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