Yesterday afternoon, while Birdy was napping, it suddenly occured to me that I hadn’t heard from the girls for what was pushing two hours. Usually, I can hear them somewhere in the house. Or hear them outside the kitchen window.
I walked outside and all was still quiet. Bikes strewn across the grass. A sweatshirt on the hood of my car. The usual troop of lounging barn cats were missing. No dog to greet me. I mean, let’s be realistic. Usually in the span of two hours at least one person is coming inside to find me, usually in tears, usually arguing with her sister over something. At the very least, I expect someone to arrive with a bloody knee or skinned up elbows.
My heart stirred a little. Did they go off hiking to the creek without asking me first? Did I give them permission to go off with someone and forgot? Were they up over the back hill?
I found them eventually, in the barn. They’d spent those two hours rearranging heavy cattle gates and fences to build themselves an indoor riding ring in the gigantic stone barn. We only inhabit three smallish stalls for the sheep and the pony and haven’t given much anything else in the big barn our attention. Suddenly struck with inspiration, the girls had hauled away boards, raked up old straw and even ran the big magnet around the dirt, to unearth any hidden nails or sharp objects.
When I walked in, it was full-on pony lessons. They’d created a safe, small little spot ring to ride. And they were absolutely content, not needing a thing from me.
The barn has become the favorite hangout this spring. Over the past two weeks, Dan built the girls a pretty cool litttle tack room for all their gear, saddles, bins of feed, leather soaps and polish. “Better than a clubhouse!” someone exclaimed at some point.
Little by little they’ve been adding their own accessories to this space. An old rug that Dan and I deemed tack room material. A cabinet. A bench and magazines. A giant calendar. A radio. Emma even dug out some grapevine wreaths from the basement and hammered in nails to hang them on the old, grey barn doors.
Being in the barn was one of my favorite things when I was little. Especially at night with the lights on, the radio playing, all the animals chomping and pulling at their hay.
So of course, I get a little thumping in my chest when I see my girls out here in the Woodlawn barn. Soon, we’ll fix up the broken wires and run some electricity. But for now, I’m just enjoying them, enjoying this special place all their own.