On Saturday I roamed the farm where I grew up, camera swinging from my neck, lens cap tucked in my pocket, eyes peeled for texture and angles; soul searching, too, I suppose, for memories, for clues to who I am…even why I am who I am.
I studied flaking paint on aging sheds, slowly stripped by winter wind and snow down to raw wood, warping.
Near the barn stand gates in disuse, leaning, rotting, rusting.
I photographed two old tractors parked under an overhang.
Every once in a while, Dad would let me lean against the fender and ride with him into the fields. I gripped the edges, petrified I’d fall. I’d feel the Bush Hog® power to life and the blades engage, spinning, hacking down weeds.
The tractors sit quietly in the barn lot, parked in the spot where Black Angus cattle used to eat from the manger.I stepped gingerly into the barn, on the lookout for spiders, swallows, mice and ‘coons. An old box car ladder was mounted to the wall years ago, maybe a hundred years ago, for farmers to get to the loft. I climbed it.
In the filtered, cloudy midday light, I studied the floorboards coated with a loose, thin layer of chaff mingled with bird droppings and layers of dust. Later my sister-in-law scolded me for going up there, thinking it can’t be good for a person with asthma.
One look at the loft and I remembered an afternoon in the ’80s when I carried up my silver boom box and turned on the radio waiting for “Footloose.” Within a few short minutes, it played. And I danced. The loft was almost empty, so I spun and leaped and it’s a wonder I didn’t slam a shoe right through the rickety boards.
A shaft of deep yellow afternoon sun streaked straight in as the sun set that day. I remember the shape defined by the window, how I danced through the beam, stirring up chaff, until I was sweating and spent. When the song ended, I sagged to the floor.
All these years later, I lifted and placed my feet slowly, deliberately, careful not to stir up dust. I am long removed from the days of dancing in the loft; I climbed back down, wondering how long it’s been since my dad kept cattle, when secure gates were critical…
…when bright white out buildings stood straight, boards nailed secure…
…when the tractor rumbled down the lane to hack down weeds.
I was prowling in the weeds out by the tool shed, focusing on old red fuel tanks and the corrugated roof of the dog house when my brother showed up to help my dad move some soil and cinder blocks.
While he emptied the wheelbarrow of rainwater and shoveled some soil, I was out looking for myself.
I pondered questions posed by a photographer:
- Who made up your DNA?
- Where do you come from?
- What object is precious to your past?
- What memory resonates most deeply?
- What moment in history marks your childhood?
In the barn lot and loft, I’d hoped for a flood of vignettes and strong emotions. A psychological epiphany would be fun to report.
No vignettes. No powerful emotions. No epiphany.
No clues to who or why I am.
Only the dancing.
Dancing in the loft.
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All content and images are copyrighted © 2011 Ann Kroeker. These images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without written permission.
Sure, you can poke around the Internet collecting writing prompts and creative writing exercises.
Or you could buy an ebook that collects them for you in one place.