A couple of Saturdays ago, I drove up to the Ridge Grove Volunteer Fire Department in Chambers County for their annual barbeque. It’s something that’s been on my local bucket list for as long as I can remember but for some reason or another, I never was able to make it. For weeks, I’d planned on going; nothing was going to stop me, not even the funeral of a 101 year old American war hero. I could do both. I just needed to adjust my plans and so I did.
I wasn’t sure if I’d know a single soul there but nevertheless had planned on sitting down and eating with some of the fine folks from that area. By the time I left, I figured I’d know half the people there. As I walked up to the building, I saw a man I’d known since I was four or five years old. A few minutes later, I saw another and then another. By the time I got through talking to them, I didn’t have time to sit down and eat there, and that was okay. I’ll do that next year. I had a funeral to get to.
On the way back to Opelika, I took the road less traveled. I enjoy getting off the beaten path, even when I drive across the country. There’s something special about the backroads and reminds me of a much simpler time.
I noticed a little empty farm house sitting in a pasture behind a barbed wire fence not too far off the road. Hovering over the house were the rather large limbs of a single tree. Dark clouds dominated over it all. It was a beautiful scene, so beautiful, in fact, that I had to take a photo. By the end of the day, the photo had over 200 likes on my Facebook page.
Truth be told, I’ve passed that same location and hundreds of similar scenes many times in my life but haven’t slowed down to really take it all in and appreciate it as often as I should. To my credit, I notice these things more than the average Joe but not nearly enough. Judging by the number of likes on that photo, I’m not alone in my appreciation of yesteryear.
Now make no mistake about it, I have no desire to go back to the days of smallpox, churning butter, and bathing in the crick. I appreciate my house and its insulation, central heat and air, and indoor plumbing. Kids of today likely can’t understand how people survived that time period without smartphones, tablets, and Netflix, when in fact, it’s quite simple how they survived: faith, family, friends…and farming.
Over the next few days, Ruby and I drove along several backroads in Lee, Chambers, and Tallapoosa Counties. She had her head sticking out the window taking in every second. I took many photos of old barns, home places, chimneys, and other structures and posted them to my social media, each getting more likes than the next.
The barns, in particular, seemed to strike a special chord with many. I know I have special memories of spending countless hours in the loft of the barn at my grandparents’ place in Tallapoosa County. In fact, every home along that country road had a barn, each holding special memories for kids and grandkids alike, I’m sure. Unless your grandparents were city slickers, barns were essential and instrumental in their very existence.
I think the connection to our grandparents is what makes barns so special. It takes us back to a simpler time long ago of long summer days out in the country filled with animals, gardens, fruit trees, and most of all, love. I actually had a request from a friend for me to photograph her grandparents’ barn and so I did.
To some, those old barns are just old barns, but they just don’t get it. To others, they are the heart and soul of what made us who we are today, and they represent much more than words could ever hope to possibly convey.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.