The Storyteller

This formidable old barn was built in 1908 near Palouse, Washington, by George Turnbow. As I learned over the past week as a guest of owners Ben and Janet Barstow, the structure is as full of memorable stories and experiences as it ever was of mice.

On Friday morning I rose at 4:30, slipped quietly from the farmhouse, and walked up the hill above the barn with the Barstow’s dog to see what sunrise would offer. Thursday had begun with a tantalizing What If: the first light was intense but quickly swallowed up by gray clouds. On this day Sadie lost interest after a while and wandered back to the house, while I crossed my fingers that a thin band of clouds above the horizon wouldn’t snuff out the dawns’ brief blush.

In the clear, brightening day, a couple of ducks whished by, while smaller birds hunted bugs along the fenceline, gossiping in undertones. A sense of calmness spread as surely as the ground fog up a slope behind the house. I claimed those rewards, and thirty minutes alone with a real character, still telling stories at a spry ninety-nine years young.


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