This will be my last winter. The winds have come and my old legs tremble. At night the tin roof creaks with frost. The snow will be kind as it softly covers me, pale sunshine with glints and sparkles that rival a diamond. I have always felt beautiful when the snow came.
There was a time when I was brand new, long ago. The young farmer chose the timbers and beams, boards for siding and tin to roof the young barn. I gleamed with new paint and stood foursquare and strong. The world was new.
Heavy horses and mules, the backbone of a farmers work, ate and dozed under my roof and I protected them. Hay was stored in my loft and the farmer’s friend, the owl, built nests in my rafters. Warm lazy days gave way to falling leaves and snow, then spring again and the sound of returning geese. And another year’s work began.
I watched the farmer teach his son the ways things were done, his ways. I watched the son gradually change to his own ways. And the farmer shook his head and grew old. Their children were always under my feet, climbing into the loft and chasing the cats. They hung a rope swing from my side beam and laughed and swung and sometimes fell. I loved the children’s laughter. Sometimes the girl would come, sit on my floor and play with her dolls while sunbeams broke through the chinks in my roof and danced on her hair.
Time came the son taught his own son the way things were done. The old farmer watched and smiled and remembered. His grandson went to a university of agriculture and came home with plans and ideas. I missed the smell of grain, it left along with the horses and mules and, strange to say, I even missed the smell of their manure. What lived inside my walls now smelled of diesel fuel and the quiet was broken by the sharp, unnatural sounds of metal. It scared the cats and owls away but not the mice.
One day the old farmer was gone and his son was growing old. His children had no interest in the farm. The tractor sat silent, the fields lay fallow, the children no longer came to play. Long ago my paint had peeled and exposed my sides to the elements till now, nearly one hundred years old, I am silver and my back is stooped. This will be my last winter.
Last week there was a young woman from the city who came to look at me. She spoke with the old farmer, telling him she thought me beautiful. Her eyes caressed my old silver sides. It seems she wants my old boards for her own home to line her walls. Once again I will stand firm and watch the children play. Perhaps I will live to see another hundred years.
Contributed by Beverly Meredith