Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating the little things at a barn dance & in life September 20, 2011

COUNTLESS TIMES my husband and I have driven into John and Debbie Becker’s rural Dundas yard for bible study and not given their barn a second thought. Maybe we’ve glanced toward it, noticed the 1915 date on the cupola or the cow art on the exterior milkhouse wall. But beyond that and John’s occasional comment that he’d like to have a barn dance, we really haven’t focused too much on that building which centers the farm (although I did photograph the exterior one evening this past summer).

Notice the cow art on the milkhouse in this image taken several months ago.

That all changed Saturday when the Beckers hosted their first-ever Harvest Time Barn Dance. I was there with camera in tow trying to capture the essence of the event via my photography.

That involved not only taking the general overall photos you would expect, but zooming in on the details. It is the details, like chapters in a book, that combined tell the complete story.

So today, in this post, I want you to see the “little things” I noticed. And I want to encourage you, as you go about your daily, busy lives, to pause and see the details. They make life interesting and fun and joyful and memorable.

All too often we hurry here and there, filling our minutes and hours and days and weeks—and then months and years—with activities and work and busyness. We miss out on so much of life by living that way.

We all need a barn dance to appreciate the sweet details of life.

There's something about this "boy in bibs looking out the barn door" that is sweet and endearing.

Herb Becker painted this on the west end of the barn interior in 1958. Family members are uncertain what it means, but John Becker thinks it may have something to do with his mom being pregnant with him then.

Most of the kids dressed in western attire, right down to the tips of their cowgirl/cowboy boots and hats.

A hammer high on a screen has hung there for 40 - 50 years and is used to close the barn window, John Becker says.

A vintage fanning mill was displayed along the pathway into the barn.

Among the signage decorating the barn interior: the Beckers' seed corn sign

Farm humor: "De-CALF coffee

Kids played in the farmyard...just using their imaginations. No electronics, toys, etc., necessary.

Kids weren't the only ones carrying cap guns. I managed to pull the pistols from this deputy sheriff's holsters twice before he pulled out his handcuffs and threatened to cuff me.

When I composed this frame, I considered the barn dances held here in the 1930s and how bands have changed with computers and high tech instruments. The contrast between old and new was not lost on me in this setting.

In one of my favorite images, I captured this sweet interaction, the bending down to the child's level, the care, the love and concern shown in this simple act. I saw that repeatedly at the barn dance, in the clasp of a child's hand, in a child atop her dad's shoulders, in hands joining on the dance floor...

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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