It was a brand new, Mennonite-constructed two storey barn with second floor dormers and an attractive, attached high-roofed RV bay, replacing the once-was sprawling, detached drive-in shed.
The design courted old fashioned ambiance with across-the-front overhang and decorative “turkey tails” over the main doors. Bails of cut straw circled the dance floor. Coal oil lanterns hung from wrought iron brackets on the sturdy posts that supported the barn-length steel I-beams. Recycled Christmas lighting brightened the shadows on the well-windowed walls, while the heat belched continuously from a huge construction unit warming the cold cement floor.
It was all of new construction, with the introduction of stabling for animals not yet on the agenda. It replaced the ancient, newly restored bank barn that was completely demolished by a tornado that touched down over the crest of the hill just beyond. It was hard to believe that just six months earlier, it majestically towered 55 feet from drive floor to roof peak, as it had for years, standing 10 years beyond a century, where this new barn now stands.
I’ve not been to a barn dance since late in my teens. But people and things have obviously not changed that much. The fun, food, conversation, laughter and dancing started shortly after the band set up just after three in the afternoon on Feb. 27. The Siberian sled dog huskies, housed in the roomy, replaced kennels across the lane, threw their noses in the air, and the ululations of their traditional howl, in conjunction with the first warm-up strokes of the fiddle, was as though they, too, welcomed in song all those who had voluntarily helped clean up after the unbelievable devastation.
The dinner and dance, featuring a volunteer local band, was being held by my son and his family as a subtle way of thanking all those who helped in the cleanup left in the wake of devastation. The huge barn and large drive-in shed were scattered over acres and widespread acres. The roof of the house and all siding had to be replaced. Likewise, the newly renovated workshop across the lane where bikes, small engines, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles are repaired and rejuvenated by mechanically minded grandsons, had its roof and siding replaced. Though their motor home and its accompanying trailer were a complete write-off and not yet replaced, time will remedy that as well.
It was a pleasant time for me; after viewing the 60 or more 15-foot trees, of several species, that replaced those damaged along both driveways and yard, I met and chatted with many people. They were friends and neighbours who lived in the widespread area, and I had not had a chance to more than briefly meet them during the busy cleanup.
My son and his family are the “new kids on the block,” not yet having earned the position of being liked by all. But I have lived a life of sufficient years to recognize country respect arising. And country folk, those not newly escaped from the city, have not changed one iota over the years since I was a child. They help when they can, doing what they can, and they show up in flocks when the grape-vine is indicative of an emergency.
It was a come as you are, come when you can, and leave when you have to celebration, which lasted from 3 to 11pm, in appreciation of a job well done. It was definitely not a bow tie, vest and swallow-tailed suit occasion. Though inclement weather during the entire morning discouraged those far away from coming, the wind and falling snow cleared by noon, leaving an inviting, calm, clear blue, white-clouded, sun-blessed winter sky.
The head count that filtered through numbered, I believe, over 70. And it was quite apparent, as the chili and cabbage rolls, along with the not-good-for-you goodies disappeared, that a good time was had by all. I have little doubt that the tornado will be added to many memories and that the “new kids on the block” as a family, are settling into a niche in which they will be, in the outcome, exceedingly happy.
Perhaps the timing is such that I should let you in on a little secret well in advance. In life, what goes around, comes around. By the end of the summer of this year, I will be joining them. I’ll be back within the comforts of a rural route address, in which the Little Lady and I both grew up and to which we went back to the joy of raising our four children, and thankfully I will once again be.
Take care, ‘cause we care.