Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fred's Barn

Every year at this time, Dad grabs a few of us and we head down the hill to Fred's and and grab a 100 bales.

As we pull in, Fred comes out and lends a hand. In his late 70s, he climbs the rafters quickly and tosses bales with ease. Fred's barn was built in the late 19th century. He feels that there is a nicer one farther down the valley. "It has straighter beams and has held up better over the years." He keeps count as we toss bales to the trailer below.

When I ride, I pass old farmsteads and hay barns like Fred's. Most are more than a century old. Built by hand, the their beams are worn smooth from decades of use.

As a child these barns hosted endless games of hide-and-go-seek, supplied a refuge from the prying eyes of parents, and offered the occasional stolen kiss. The air in the barn is sweet and smells like late August. And as I climb the ladder to the hayloft, the worries of my week pass. I am a kid again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Red Mo

There are some things time just can't fix.

If you head north of Snow Shoe, above Moshannon, you come to the little town of Grassflat. This is where my dad and I would put in for a run down the Red Mo. And where he taught me how to run fast water.

In the spring the water is high and there are deep pools separated wide lazy flats. In the summer it's barely navigable, but a heavy rain makes it passable for a day.

Decades of abandon mine runoff has stained the riverbed red and left it unsuitable for most aquatic life. Recent developments will tax it again as gas companies look for water resources to drill the Marcellus Shale.

I worry about this creek and the waters downstream, and I wonder what it would have been like before the mines, before it went red.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Long Shadows

Winter is closing fast.

The leaves are off the trees and from the looks of it, they have taken up residence in my back yard. A fact that I choose to ignore along with the rest of my home maintenance. A near 70-degree day found me out on the road for what could be the last good ride of the fall.

I've been hitting the same roads lately. The back way to my father's house remains one of my favorites. Winding with rolling hills, it's perfect for a lazy ride in the afternoon sun.