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home : columnists and contributors : columnists and contributors October 4, 2015

7/17/2013 12:01:00 AM
Harbor Springs...Now and Then
Cynthia Morse Zumbaugh

While driving across Quick Road this week, I noticed a field with the old fashioned bales of hay, not the huge round versions that are more common in recent years. Took me back to many fun, exhausting times of hauling the hay into the barn.

I was a puny kid, I wasn't able to toss the bales around as is necessary to get them on the wagon, so I either had to roll the bales toward the wagon path, or more often, I got to drive the tractor. I learned to drive on that tractor, stick shift and all, when I could barely reach the pedals.

Driving the tractor offered some exceptional benefits. If my older brother was being obnoxious, not an uncommon occurrence, it was easy enough to wait until he was high on the wagon load of hay and "accidentally" pop the clutch, sending him and much of the hay he had worked to load flying to the ground. And since I was just a "girl," it certainly was never my fault that I had trouble with difficult mechanical maneuvers like shifting; I couldn't be blamed and I surely didn't have to suffer any retribution.

We had one of the old fashioned, actual barn-looking barns, with a hay loft on one side and straw in the other mow. We would climb up to the top of the rafters and jump into the straw, I'm certain that I have classmates who can attest to what a wonderful time it was. In our litigious age today, this would, of course, never be allowed because someone could be injured. Absolutely true, we could have been hurt. We weren't.

On the hayloft side, we would make forts and castles from the bales, perfect for young imaginations to run wild and mine always has.

Many of my slumber parties were held in that barn. Perfect alternative to camping outside, you didn't have to worry about the rain and the straw was much more comfortable than the ground. Besides, if it got scary, which it sometimes did, you could always turn on the lights. There are lots of critters and sounds around a barn a night. Even the cats, my best friends during the day, spent their nights stalking and killing their prey and that wasn't always a quiet endeavor.

The main drawback was the smell; cows and horses downstairs are not the best neighbors, speaking on an olfaction level. That was a small price to pay in exchange for the other, more pleasant smells of the hay and the crisp country air. The only other negative was the fact that with many doors and trapdoors, it was too easy to sneak up on someone to scare them or to eavesdrop on them. Brothers are mean; have I mentioned that?

I learned to milk cows in that barn, though I honestly never had to do that, wasn't my job, as they say. I did like to hang out there at milking time because nothing tastes better than milk right from the source. If the "milker" knew what they were doing, they could aim and hit you with a stream direct from the cow. Even the barn cats stayed close by for that. It was warm and rich; talk about organic, it didn't get any fresher than that. Once the milk went through the separator and the cream was removed, it never tasted quite as good.

I'm sure that the pole barns of today are far more energy efficient and useful than the old style barns, but they don't have the same ambiance. Our barn probably wasn't special, but it was to me. Most of the neighbors had barns and they were always a great play spot. I remember spending the night with Kay Shepler and climbing up the side of her Grandma Mert Johnson's silo. Curnows had their big barn for the sheep; I can still remember being amazed at how little the sheep were once all that wool was removed. Victor, the actual Ram mascot, lived in Curnow's barn. He was decidedly not little. I experienced my first kiss at a birthday party in Robin Reavely's barn; it was just a short walk through the woods from my parent's house (that's Jan Parsons' barn now, for those of you keeping track of who, what and where.)

One other decided benefit of having a barn and animals and of hauling hay is that you also had a hay wagon. I can't begin to tell you how many hayrides my parents hosted over the years. My birthday is in November and half the time it was snowing, but there was almost always had a hayride at my party, followed by hot chocolate and, of course, my mom's famous banana donuts.

I've been told that the Junior class next year wants to host the prom in a barn, ala Footloose. I think that would be such a fun change of pace from the fancy locales; I hope someone who has a nice barn will step forward and offer it to them if they decide to go that way.

I've been asked by happy mom Lana Hamlin Tomkins to pass along the info that her son, Brandon Cavitch, will be marrying Amy Umlor on July 20. Best wishes go out to that happy couple.

Now on to our birthday wishes. On Thursday, July 18, Happy Birthday to Jolene Kosequat Ester and to Marc Sprague and on Friday, July 19, to Rick Holdorph, Emily Clare, Brent Juilleret and Don Calnen. On Saturday, Chuck Bartlett will be celebrating his birthday and on Sunday we send birthday greetings to Mark Carter, Charles Ranney (celebrating his 6th) and to Connor Cleven. Monday, July 22 is the natal anniversary for Robin Morse, Tami Hadix, Doreen Boynton and Virginia Renker. Happy Birthday on Tuesday to Karen White Pennington, Nancy Allerding Topham and Monica Swiss Steinmeyer. Finally, last but most assuredly not least, Happy Birthday on Wednesday, July 24 to Charles O'Neill and to Tom McDonald (but don't tell because his is a closely guarded secret.)

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