Chapter 1 – Winter, South Dakota 1985

I have on my snow pants and giggle at the sound the polyester makes as my legs move down the porch stairs. My 3 year old little sister and I climb over the monstrous snow drifts towards the derelict red barn.  The bright white sun reflecting off the glistening snow is almost painful. My cheeks feel cold and hot all at once. Nearly weightless little girls, we easily slide in our snow pants and moon boots across the crusted tops of the drifts, but sometimes we fall through and have to climb our way out. We approach the old barn and see the side door is propped open by a snow drift. We squeeze our bundled little bodies through the half open door, sliding through the opening on our bellies down the drift, into the darkened barn. As we stand up and brush off our snowpants, patting our mittens free of snow, the mysterious smells of a farm long ago fill our frozen noses. The snow is so high outside that the barn windows are blocked out, making the immense shadowy space inside the barn feel even colder and mysterious. Along one side of the barn, there are metal upside down u-shaped racks where cows would have been tied for milking, and the dirt floor is littered with shredded and trampled layers of old hay, straw and corn stalks. Stalactites of pigeon poop rise frozen up off the ground. This barn hasn’t been disturbed for many, many years. We walk over to where the concrete silo opening rises up 3 stories, and peering in the hole, we startle a flock of pigeons, who suddenly make their way up and out of sight, the only sound the soft whistle of the air from their rapid wing beats.

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