Mine is not a nomadic tribe. My mother’s family received this plot of land that we live on from the King of England before the Revolution.
When the barns went up right around 1800, that’s when it really became us. Five generations of the Davis family in Olivebridge have spent a great deal of time working in, and in my case, playing in the hay barn, horse barn, granary, feed and chicken coops, the pony shed and all manner of assorted out buildings that comprised our farm from that time until about the winter 2005 when the big barn finally fell to the ground with a giant sigh. The other buildings went down in their own time and on their own accord under the weight of an Uncle’s disinterest and the cruelty of time.
Not one of the cousins or city friends that came to stay and work with Vi and Lon or Grandma Davis can forgive the loss of the barnyard, the absolute absence of the landscape that held us and kept us busy during day long haying sessions (or more importantly the day long hide and seek games). Swinging from the top hay mow past the feed bin and on to the neatly stacked bales of hay, we were pirates and Tarzan and escaped convicts and cat burglars and heroes. We knew we had it made because we had a barn to play in; at every turn we unearthed cool stuff from another century, always had a place to work on our bikes when it rained, and never had to find a better club-house to meet in.
When my grandfather died he left our home to my brother Michael and said, “I know you’d rather have the barn, but I want you kids to always have a house to live in”. And so I do. And I make a lot of paintings and prints about barns of all kinds to send a wink to my ancestors to let them know that I’m grateful and that I was paying attention. And when I get a million dollars, I’ll rebuild the barnyard at Davis Corners.