ESCANABA – The cold wind ruffled the old, rough wood.
Acorns and brittle leaves sprouted from the sinking roof. Inside a mouse nestles, hidden in the rafters. Antique furniture, dated newspapers, tobacco cans, flower pots, planters and recycled jars leave clues to long-lost family secrets.
Old barns and outside buildings have a magical charm in the fall.
Who lived in this clearing in the northern woods? How did they live? Perhaps the stains of sweat from their hardworking hands that still remain on the axes, shovels and saws will tell us about them.
If barns and woods could talk what a wonderful family saga they would tell.
After a summer of roses, romance, sunshine and rain another growing season is blooming and ready for harvest. The straw is full and the mound is high. How many of the winters in UP has this old hobby seen?
When the last of the orange, crimson and yellow leaves have fallen on the cold and wet ground, it’s time to go indoors. But we need to clean up first. Garden hose and lawn chairs need to be kept in the garage or shed. Swings, hanging baskets and rain gauges should find a place outside the buildings to spend the winter.
Most Yooper families have an autumn ritual of packing things in the summer and preparing for the long winter.
Many of us remember grandfather’s barn. We can almost smell it at this time of year with all the sweet hay stored in the hayloft and smell the smell of manure. Resident bats make the last flight in the moonlight.
Every shovel and rake is in its place and a rusty, red Farmall tractor rests in a corner. Even spiders and rats are ready for a little while.
An outside building commonly known as a “Shape of wood” is part of most homesteads in Upper Michigan. The woodland not only keeps the brewed firewood dry and accessible during the snow months but is also an important storage area.
Outside the camp we still have a woodshed. Like most woods the door has this creepy sound when you open it. A spicy aroma of dried maple and birch greets you as you enter. Red squirrels and deer mice are welcome guests in the woods but not in the camp.
The ax, always sharp and ready for action is the most important of all the tools that live in the shed. The pick ax, grub hoe, splitting mauls and jigsaw make up a pretty fun family of useful items.
Whether you have an old barn or an outdoor building on your property, it’s fun to look at all the things stored there. Did grandpa saw that wood to build grandma on the balcony he had always wanted? What ever happen to those two teenagers who were so in love that they carved their initials in the barn wall?
What good deal is preserved in canning jars that are now empty and dusty?
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.