I placed my boot onto the bottom rung and grabbed the flat piece of wood, in front of me. I climbed the primitive ladder nailed to the inside wall of the barn, testing each rung before putting all my weight into it. The wood was smooth with wear from all the other people who did the same over the past 180 years.
I poked my head through the small hole in the floor and was startled, seeing movement, a streak of deep blue out of the corner of my eye. Then I realized it was only a trick of the light. The light coming in the windows and cracks in the walls, the same light that drew me into the hayloft.
The wooden ladder continued past the floor and up the wall. I climbed till I could step onto the hay-covered floor of the loft.
It had been over a year since I’d been in the hayloft. It’s one of those forgotten spaces on the farm. When we first moved in we used to store the hay there. I’d throw down a few bails at a time through a bigger hole in the floor, on the opposite side of the barn than the one I’d come up through. But after a couple of years of doing that, we found it easier to just pile the hay on the first floor.
Like checking the fences, I like to go into the hayloft to make sure that things are still in good shape. I check the roof for spots of sunlight coming in where a slate may have fallen off. I look around to see if there are any repairs that need to be done.
But I also like to just visit the hayloft.
It’s a beautiful space occupied by old broken chairs and a few old doors. Most of the chairs are Victorian or later. Their cane seats torn, legs or backs broken.
I fantasize about fixing them up and bringing them into to farmhouse.
There are two, probably from the 1930’s with plank backs and missing seats. Someone started removing the paint from the backs but gave up before finishing. I remember them because I’ve always liked that style of chair and they’re sturdy. I used to cane chairs, but have no interest in doing that anymore. These chairs never had cane seats, so I can imagine fixing them up more than some of the others.
As I walked through the hayloft, I look at the hand hewn beams. Notice which ones have unused notches in them indicating that they came from another barn or house that had been dismantled. I think about the person who hand-whittled the wooded pegs used to hold the structure together.
Then I lift an old leather bridle half buried in the hay that carpets the floor and is soft under my boots. And there beside the bridle is a chair seat. A plank of wood covered in black Naugahyde.
I place it on the 1930’s chair and it fits perfectly. So I kept looking till I find the seat for the other chair. It doesn’t take long.
I could clean these up I think. Maybe even paint the chair or replace the Naugahyde with a 1930s-style print. I think of bringing the chairs back down with me but decided to leave them where they are.
I know I won’t be getting around to fixing them anytime soon.
But maybe sometime this winter, if I’m looking for something different to do on the weekend, I’ll know where there are. Right where they’ve been for all these years, with all the other broken chairs, waiting for the right person to come along, fix them up and bring them home.