The Barn

The Barn

August, Patti, Rome, Hattie March 2018

My husband and I go to this wonderful place a few times a week to visit with a good-sized group of friends. Wednesday nights are potluck-supper nights and Sunday mornings are reserved for Christian worship: sometimes quite structured; sometimes just talking about the challenges of our week. We live in a small community where most families can trace their lineage back several generations and most of the people who show up are related in some way. If you ask, they will gladly and patiently explain the complex family ties that link them. My husband and I are not related to anyone there but that is okay; from the first time we were invited to join them, we have been welcomed and treated like family anyway.

The building is a barn but a nice, finished barn. The ceilings are high and the atmosphere is cozy. Walking in, there is usually a great deal of noise. The men always tend to congregate at the far end of the room and a quiet murmur of unhurried, deep voices can be heard discussing planting schedules, weather issues, heavy-equipment purchases, new trucks, old trucks and other masculine topics. The women tend to sit nearer to the front of the room and the talk is just as diverse and wide-ranging. A few of the women are master knitters and I am always mesmerised as I watch beautiful balls of coloured yarn become works of art under their masterful fingers. There are children everywhere: some of the older ones quietly play computer games on I-pads in a room off to the side; a few of the smaller ones take turns on a big, sturdy swing that hangs from a large doorway in the middle of the room. They have the run of the place and unselfconsciously crawl in and out of warm and willing laps as the evening waxes on. Babies are cuddled and fed bottles and happily passed from one person to another. The resident doggie knows the ones who will feed him and sits expectantly at their feet waiting for treats.

In the winter, the big wood stove that dominates the centre of the room throws off so much heat that none of us want to sit too close for too long. Much of the big room is filled with a large, mismatched assortment of timeworn easy-chairs placed cheek-to-jowl around a huge coffee table that is filled with dishes and coffee cups in various stages of completion. A long table on the other side of the room groans under the weight of a large assortment of savoury dishes and deserts brought by the folks in attendance: the only price of admission (store-bought or an extra tin of coffee will do just fine, and you still get fed if you come empty-handed). There is no real order to things; people help themselves and find a place to sit and eat. Moms encourage the children to eat a bite whenever they can catch them. At the end of each meal, someone always gets up to start the dishes and someone else grabs a towel and begins to dry.

It has become one of my favourite parts of the week. I vaguely recall visits to my grandparents’ houses when I was a little girl, where people, food, conversation and children were that plentiful, but I come from a small family and it has been many years since I have been able to relish such joyful pandemonium. I often sit quietly and just listen to the little scraps of conversation all around me: the deep rumble of the men’s voices on one end; the more high-pitched conversation of the women on the other, and the piercing shrieks, laughter and occasional wails of the little ones. I particularly savour the moments when I have the baby on my lap: she is six months old now and I know that she will soon be too interested in crawling about on the floor to allow any real cuddling, so I am relishing these snuggles while I still can.

This place has its own, special magic and I feel honoured and blessed to be a part of it. We all have a common belief in God – that is why this place was first created – but the group is so eclectic and so diverse that differences of opinion and philosophy are respected, if not always completely understood or agreed upon. I have always loved the adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and this place frequently brings that saying to my mind. The ages of those in attendance are varied; advice is frequently requested by the younger crowd, and freely and generously shared by the elders. Disagreements – while infrequent – are handled with respect and diplomacy. Whoever sees a child acting out quietly restores order. Sometimes, the group will discreetly amass and deliver food or household supplies for a local family that might require a helping hand.

And like a true community, everybody is welcome to come for a sit and a chat: some folks come every week; some show up from time to time and some come just to give it a try. There is never any pressure and there are no guilt-trips; just a warmly-inviting open door.

It is the perfect ‘village’ to raise a child…not to mention a number of grown-ups who still occasionally need the comfort of a community…

(gratefully printed with permission from the folks at The Barn…xoxo)

Patti Moore Wilson ©



Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

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