A little girl runs across an open yard of green grass into the shade of an aging barn. The day is hot and she enjoys the cool damp smell of old cement and wood as she enters the big open front door. It’s dim inside despite sunshine outside. The windows are dark with cobwebs and years of gravel dust caused by traffic zooming by. The barn hasn’t housed animals since before her family bought the little homestead.
She makes her way down the big open center hallway, glancing again at the piles of plastic, metal, and otherwise old stuff that she has never looked at closely. But today is not that day. She turns right between two cement ramps, each only as wide as both her feet squashed side by side, with a rusty pipe handrail protruding from them in two places. The cement continues left and right from the little walkway at about the height of her armpits. It’s like a short wall between the large center aisle and the outer wall.
In front of her is what she suspects was once an office. It’s windows are broken but still in place and winter snows sneak in to settle on the floor. They keep the dog and cat food in there. But that is not the point of her interest today. She turns left and glances over the short wall at strange hanging rusty metal contraptions. She had asked her mother what they were, and the answer had been about cows and milking. She planned on examining them closer, but today is not that day either.
After a couple steps, she turns right to climb tremulously up a wood ladder nailed to the wall. The rungs are spaced just a little too far apart for her to ascend quickly. She arrives at the top, through the trap door, and smiles at the largely empty loft before her. This is where she wants to be.
Before her, taking up the lion’s share of the space, is the trampoline. Beside it stands a worn, blonde-wood rocking chair and a broom. Resting on the floor at the foot of the chair is her hand-me-down rollerblades. To the left is a ping pong table covered with a dusty blue tarp.
What adventure should I have today? she wonders as she reaches out her left hand to turn on the big square radio without looking at it. Her favorite station is already tuned in from last time she had played here. She decides to be a magic wielding princess in hiding. She heads for the broom. The rollerblading path needs to be swept or she might slip and fall. She wonders momentarily about the amount of dust that keeps appearing on the loft floor boards, but her favorite song begins and, singing lustily, she pretends to be a servant in her own castle.
Her adventure plays though her mind as she finishes sweeping, exchanging worn tennis shoes for dusty rollerblades. They are her steed now; horse, wings, or her own two feet. She zooms in circles around the loft, traveling through woods, corridors, and secret tunnels. At last she confronts the evil wizard wielding her staff and sword. She twists and turns slipping away from his deadly energy blasts. She twirls, delivering a final blow… and falls on her butt. Sheepishly she stands up, her mind temporary back in the present, and removes the rollerblades.
Once done, her mind slips back into the story; the wizard has escaped! She grabs the broom and gives chase. After several minutes of running around and around she catches him and defeats him. Panting heavily, she climbs on the trampoline and flops down to rest, her mind still in high gear. There is a grand party in her honor and she reveals her heritage. The people are glad!
At last the vivid images of another land, superimposed on her eyes, fade. She looks up at the little round holes in the barn roof. She rises to hands and knees and sidles to the edge of the trampoline. There are sunlight spots on the wood floorboards. But wait, they’re ovals! She flops down again with her head hanging over the edge and studies the points of light on the floor. After a few minutes, some of them spent playing invisible connect-the-dots, she notices that one of the spots has moved closer to a joint in the wood floorboards. She counts the boards between the trampoline and the spot several times, to make sure she counted right, as the sunspot travels over the crack.
Now she watches intently; the spot moving waveringly across the board to the next joint, seeming to chase and race the spots near it in slow motion. She’s been watching for a while when husky tenor voice calls up the ladder to her. Her father is home! …and it’s supper time. She returns a shout that she’s coming and moves to put on her shoes again.
A thought strikes her. She’s just Watched the sun move! Well, in a roundabout sort of way. She’d always known the sun moved, she could tell morning from evening from where the sun was, but she couldn’t stare at the sun like she had just stared at the little sunspots.
Her father calls up to her again (she didn’t know he was waiting) and she runs over to descend through the trapdoor, hitting the radio’s off button in passing. She hugs him as soon as she hits ground floor and they walk out of the barn, where they promptly race to the house for supper.
This is a fairly true account of a average day I spent in our barn (see also The Logs). I do remember watching the sunlight spots and thinking about watching the sun move.