Ah, where to begin. Well, I guess I’ll begin by saying that this is still one my favorite things to look back on to this day. My brothers and sisters and I were younger, spanning the ages from about three to twelve.
My grandparents have a big red barn with a great big loft, and it’s full of all kinds of tidbits and treasures for us to play with. Things like red wagons, hay bails, little desks and chairs from when my mom was a kid, her old toys and dolls- you get the picture. Basically a little kid from Indiana’s paradise. My family visited my grandparents every Sunday afternoon after church, and me and my brothers and sisters practically lived out there during that time. And I mean “lived” literally as much as I do figuratively. We had a whole little town going on outside. Full-on Little House on the Prairie scene. We had shops and homes and trading stands and would split up into little families, which was perfectly doable considering there were 8 of just us, and even more including the cousins. There was a little self-reliant town all based in and around the big red barn. There were all kinds of things to use for “food” and for trading and selling purposes. Just to the left of our town was a huge cornfeild. Perfect- there were unlimited uses for that stuff. Scattering the yard were walnuts that had fallen from the many walnut trees, and those we could actually eat. There were “helicopter” trees all over the place. You know the ones- a big gust of wind and all the dried up “hellicopters” go swirling through the air. Those were gathered up and peeled to be used for “beans” and “soups.” Onion grass was the perfect “seasoning,” and if we needed some added protein? Hey, there were plenty of bugs and worms around. Of course, we didn’t really eat these hearty concoctions, but we sure as heck put our heart and soul into cooking them.
I remember grabbing buckets and going down to the creek to get water to keep our town running. We’d carry it back up to the barn, dump some here, dump some there, and then grab the wagon and take it out to gather things we needed for our “homes” and “shops.” One time, the cornfeild had been plowed before we arrived, and fantastically so. Well, fantastically for us, anyway. It was actually a terrible job. The plowers had somehow missed a TON of corn. You could stick your hand down into the piles of broken stalks and pull back up handfuls of kernels. We loaded that wagon to the brim and brought it back to the barn so as to share the wealth amongst each other. That wagonload provided tons of pretend suppers for our pretend-hungry bellies. All stacked on the railings were cans, bowls, and makeshift cooking pots full of “corn chowders” and “vegetable soups” and “salads,” which were all actually pretty much the same thing- bowls of dried up corn kernels and leaves floating around in water.
Days spent out in the barn with nothing but a few old toys, some dirt, and our imaginations were the most interesting and well-spent days of my childhood.