Feature image (2015): Grandpa’s barn doorway which leads to the stairs and the hayloft. Cats and kittens are welcome on the farm. They even have their own ladder and window entry for their safety and convenience.
Are you a fellow boomer who remembers the thrill of playing in the hayloft? Climbing up the stacks of bales, jumping off and flying through the air, landing in a pile of prickly hay?
In 1984, a lovely “spinster,” who was my favorite Sunday School teacher and who often shared her treasure of books from her personal library with me, organized and put together a book called Horndean Heritage. She asked to submit a special memory that reflected our little country pumpkin town.
I chose to write about grandpa’s hayloft…
Little Carrie struggled with the heavy barn door, leaning against it, and then pushing with her whole body. Slowly the massive piece of hardwood creaked open, groaning and complaining as if it did not want to be wakened so early in the morning. Carrie wrinkled her freckled nose in distaste as a strong whiff of warm, pungent barn air hit her full in the face. She stepped inside and scampered up the worn, creaky stairs to the hayloft. Ahh! The sweet fragrance of fresh hay greeted her as she reached the top stair.
A beam of bright sunlight streaked across the center of the otherwise dusky room, revealing particles of dust floating lazily. Bales stacked up to sixteen feet high lined the sides of the hayloft, and in the center of the room was an enormous pile of yellow hay. Carefully, Carrie clambered to the top of a stack of bales and looked down. Even though she had done this many times before, she still hesitated just a little, and her heart still fluttered just a little faster than usual.
Then she jumped. Her body flew downward gracefully. Her stomach took off on a flight of its own, like a bird swooping through the sky. She sucked in a mouthful of air and held it there. Then she hit the yielding prickly mountain of hay and sank deeply into it. Carrie lay there for just a moment, looking high above her at the vast ceiling with its great curved beams.
A few seconds of leisure and the itch became unbearable. Carrie scrambled out of the hay and began picking the straw off her body. It always seemed to find its way under her shirt and behind her trousers, in her hair and even in her socks. She brushed the last straws from her hair and stuck one in her mouth, thinking how much it tasted like the chamomile tea her mother often gave her before bedtime.
Carrie turned towards the open loft door when suddenly she tripped over a very irate brown and white speckled laying hen. She squawked and screeched and flapped her wings wildly, as she scurried away in fear, or perhaps exasperation and anger at all the commotion. Carrie was rather frightened herself and let out a surprised yell as she stumbled to the floor.
Then she saw the eggs. Carefully, she slipped one into each pocket of her trousers, thinking how pleased Grandma would be when she gave them to her. Carrie looked out the loft door and waved to her grandfather, who was feeding the pigs. He waved back and smiled, telling her not to come too close to the edge and to be careful.
Here was the place Carrie liked best when she wanted to be alone. She would sit and dangle her feet off the edge and watch the world from a different perspective. She bent down to do just that when, crunch!
Yuk!… she had forgotten about the eggs!”
Published in Horndean Heritage, 1984 – Carrie Wachsmann