Monday, May 10, 2010

The Land of Red Barns

Most of the barns here in the deep South are unpainted, worn, gray wood. In fact, for a while there was a craze in the decorating market for barnwood picture frames. They weren't red, just plain old weather-beaten boards. Last week, we drove through Wisconsin, the land of big red barns. They're not bright red, like in young children's books. They're blood red shades leaning almost to purple in some places. Colors like burgundy, mahogany, brick, and maroon dot the landscape like embroidered flowers on quilting squares.

I kept wondering why barns are red. Why not blue or yellow? Wouldn't those colors stand out just as easily as red? Who decided barns were supposed to be red? After some minor research (I could probably find more details if I looked longer), there are a couple of reasons that popped up.

1. European farmers preserved their barns with linseed oil. The oil produced a dark red color when applied to the wood.

2. The ferrous oxide in red paint acted as a preservative for the wood.

3. Red paint was cheaper. (I don't know if it is any more. Didn't check.)

4. Red was just a popular color.

How Stuff Works says that wealthy farmers added blood to their paint mixture, causing the paint to change to a darker color. I still don't know why they did that. There's probably a plot line tucked away in that idea somewhere.

So my curiosity was at least appeased, if not totally satisfied.

I had a lovely week with my grandchildren. The deer park was a huge attraction for a two-year-old. He never hesitated for a moment, just kept shelling out those deer wafers to the critters that followed him around.

We rode the Wisconsin Ducks, the World War II vehicles that maneuver over land and across water. The Dells careen over the sides of the Wisconsin River. When we got home and relayed events of the trip to the great grandparents, Cliff's dad told of his adventures crossing the Rhine River in the "Ducks."

I didn't do any writing while I was gone. I did read through some research on the plane, but the grandbabies kept me occupied for the week. I did do a bit of pleasure reading. I finished Wicked Will by Bailey MacDonald. I met Bailey (aka Brad Strickland) at our Southern Breeze conference in February and came home with his new mystery about the young William Shakespeare. I enjoyed discovering the many ways he wove details from Shakespeare's plays into an imagined childhood. The story moves along at a fast clip incorporating many plot twists found in Shakespeare's work. Nice work. Enjoyable read.

I came home to find that the woodpecker tree across the creek finally crashed down into the woods. A couple of crows have taken up residence somewhere in the canopy and they're chasing the owls off. Maybe they're guarding a nest of baby crows. I think I like the eerie "two-whoo" better than the raucous "caw-caw."

I think I'm caught up for the moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment