LIKE COUNTRY CHURCHES and abandoned farmhouses, old barns draw me close, calling me to not only look, but to truly see.
All too often these days, though, my view is periphery, a quick glimpse from a car window of a barn that stands straight and strong or crooked and decaying.
Because these are not my barns on my property, I typically settle for photographing them from the roadway, although I would like nothing more than to meander my way around the farmyard.
Barns evoke memories—of sliding shovels full of cow manure into gutters, of dumping heaps of pungent silage before stanchions, of pushing wheelbarrows overflowing with dusty ground feed down the narrow barn aisle, of dodging streams of cow pee, of frothy milk splashing into tall metal pails, of Holsteins slopping my skin with sandpaper tongues.
Such memories come from years of hard work on my childhood dairy farm in southwestern Minnesota. That barn stands empty now, has for longer than I care to remember. No cows. No kids. No farmer. No nothing.
I have only my memories now and those barns, those roadside barns, which symbolize the hope, the fortitude and the dreams of generations of Minnesotans.
© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling