Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Barn Art

   On beautiful spring days it's time to reactivate a distinct pleasure of childhood, the Sunday afternoon drive. For my early childhood to get a ride was a thrill because gas was rationed and the car was never used except for work and dire emergencies. The best we could do was wait at the corner above the house for a ride on the running board when our father returned from work.
   Back-roads driving is a skill acquired in a past era, but in the spring it is pure joy to observe the countless greens that appear in the landscape. It's sad to see barns and abandoned houses crumbling into oblivion, but frequently a well maintained farm will pop into view and you slow down to a crawl to watch it glide past.
   Barns have been used for advertising since time immoral when enterprising businessmen recognized the value of alerting passers by of their wares. A new generation of merchants recognized the flight patterns of airplanes and used the roofs of barns. A writer never lets an experience that will give life and genuineness to their work fade into memory. Maud Tosh writes her first letter home in Sandprints of Death when she describes roof advertising:

   "The trip was short, but we had to wait an hour to land at the Atlanta airport. Five times the plane flew a big loop over a barn that had 'Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco' painted on the roof."

   Some years ago a movement began to enhance barns across the country. Local Art Guilds and various other groups began doing placards that depicted quilt patterns and placing them on barns by the side of the road. Today they are called "Barn Art."
   You must get off the Interstates and away from new construction to view these works of art because barns existed long before the new highways, which passed them by. A perfect excuse for a Sunday afternoon drive to tour the quilt museum of patterns we all remember. Take a picnic basket and tailgate, better yet stop by a country store for nabs and a soda, or drop peanuts in a Coke before drinking it. Indulgence is a snack from the past for a afternoon drive.
   Nash and I have a collection of barn art which we plan to post to a Pinterest board. A favorite is a white barn located in Adair County, KY on Hwy. 55 that has a perfect color wheel on its peak. I'd watched it for years before we ever got around to taking a photograph as bad weather, not having a camera with us, or going too fast to stop got in the way.
   Take a drive next Sunday and indulge yourself on the back-roads, because that is where real views are located to watch spring dance across the landscape.

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