Ode to the granary

There has been so much sorrow expressed over the loss of grain elevators that you would think some of that affection would have spilled over for wooden granaries as well.

Granaries are a vanishing rural icon — and a playhouse where one’s imagination knew no limits.

Granaries are a vanishing rural icon — and a playhouse where one’s imagination knew no limits.

There has been so much sorrow expressed over the loss of grain elevators that you would think some of that affection would have spilled over for wooden granaries as well.

Just like the big wooden grain elevators have been replaced with cement grain terminals, the rows of wooden granaries that once edged almost every Canadian grain farm have been almost completely replaced with round silver metal ones.

When I was growing up those old wood granaries edged our fields and even, for a time, our yard.

Every summer my parents would let us convert one of the granaries into a playhouse until harvest time. My two sisters and I would sweep out all the last bits of grain and occasional mouse nest and then the fun would begin!

An assortment of furniture was ferreted from our house and my mom donated some cracked dishes to the cause and in no time at all we were in the home making business.

I remember having a little pink plastic ironing board and a matching pink iron that actually plugged in! Of course, this point was mute since the granary didn’t have a plug-in, but even so I was unreasonably attached to the thing.

I spent hours happily licking my finger to test the iron for imaginary heat and whipping everything from doll clothes to towels around on that ironing board. Ironically enough, as an adult I hate ironing. Maybe my attitude would be different if my ironing board were pink.

One of the best bits of housekeeping advice I have gleaned over the years is how to avoid ironing jeans. Being a generous — if somewhat lazy — person I will share this with you. When you take the wet jeans out of the dryer, shake them out and then carefully fold them as if you were putting them into a drawer instead of a dryer. Then remove the jeans from the dryer while they are still just slightly damp, hang in your closet and they will look as if they just spent an hour under an iron.

For being a column lamenting the passing of wooden granaries this is starting to sound more like an Ask Heloise column.

Speaking of Heloise, I once read a column by her where she recommended putting damp clothes in the refrigerator until they’re ready to iron.

Apparently the cold keeps the wrinkles from setting. In the same column she told about a woman from Indiana who still had her daughter’s baby clothes in the fridge ready to iron. Her daughter was 42.

For some reason that makes me feel a whole lot better about my own domestic ability.

In our play-house granary we didn’t do any laundry, but we did have a lot of fun. It wasn’t all about housekeeping. Domestic bliss was frequently interrupted by the arrival of imaginary (obviously) robbers, sasquatches and giants.

Every once in awhile we would have some sort of disagreement and one of us would storm out of the granary. If we were mad enough we would consider the fact that the granary doors locked from the outside; a real convenience when you were on the outside and your siblings were on the inside. Depending on how loud they screamed or how hard they kicked the door or how close our parents were, it was possible to demand all kinds of wonderful things before finally agreeing to release them. Good times.

My hometown of Dawson Creek, B.C. not only did its conservation bit by converting a grain elevator into an art museum but a couple who live outside of the city converted a couple granaries into a high end bed and breakfast.

However, one of the granaries is a round one and I have to grudgingly admit with its multiple glass doors and a circular mural around the ceiling painted by a local artist, it looks pretty nice.

OK, it looks spectacular.

If you’re curious you can check it out at www.thegranaries.com It’s almost enough to make a person want to rescue and renovate a granary or two themselves. If you do, keep in mind that just because your granary has plug-ins that doesn’t mean you have to iron anything. And make sure the doors only lock from the inside.

Shannon McKinnon is a syndicated humour columnist from the Peace River country. Check her out online at www.shannonmckinnon.com

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