When you rummage around an old barn, you never know what you’ll turn up. And that’s the premise here.
For 21 years, we owned a small barn behind our house in a small northern New England city. Technically, it was a carriage house, though I find that phrase a tad pretentious. Ours was definitely funky, even once we added a mother-in-law apartment on half of the first floor, along with the German mother-in-law and her constant flow of Wagnerian opera. Similar structures of many varied colors, uses, and conditions are found tucked in around town, especially in its older neighborhoods. Blessedly, our renovations created easy access to the old hayloft, which then became a three-season retreat for me, a place where I’d read and reflect as well as some crucial space that allowed me to unpack much writing that appeared years earlier in the literary small press scene in addition to previously unpublished notes, correspondence, and drafts hammered out in my zig-zag journey through life. That’s what I’ve been sharing with you, along with a raft of fresh work.
When I launched this blog at the end of 2011, I wasn’t sure if it would be a Quaker voice that also embraced poetry, or a poetry ‘zine that drew on Quaker faith and practice. What’s evolved is a shuffling of personal encounters, public affairs, home and garden, arts and letters, digital photography from around New England, and a smattering of newspaper trade confessions. Many of the posts spring from my native Midwest as well as my sojourns in the Pacific Northwest and Mid-Atlantic states where I’ve also lived and labored.
Increasingly, the entries turned to touting my latest appearances as a novelist. My stories delve into everything from teen angst, food trends, self-identifies, death and a search for meaning in life, spirituality and romance, family business and personal career decisions, to guerrilla economics and bohemian lifestyles. Let’s just say I’ve known some colorful characters who’ve shaped my emotions and thoughts.
These days the blog’s also drawing heavily on my latest book, a history of Dover Friends Meeting and its wider community, as well as my new adventures now that we’ve made the hard decision to downsize and move on up the coast to a remote fishing village in Downeast Maine, a place that also has a lively arts scene.
Oh, my, you’d never believe all that we discovered we’d stuffed into the barn or how much won’t fit in our new place. The fresh encounters will continue to add to what you find here, even if I no longer own a real barn. Well, my red barn has evolved into a metaphor, anyway, and that part remains.
Over the years, the Barn has welcomed folks from around the world who keep stopping by to visit. Feel free to pull up a chair, sit back, and join in for a spell. I trust you’ll find some quirky conversation and spiritual refreshment, maybe straight from the garden of the imagination, or even a can of sardines. (Our fishing village was once the Sardine Capital of the World.) Pipe up with your own comments whenever you’re moved, reblog anything that fits, and please invite your online neighbors to join us. Here’s hoping we meet often!