We stood in silence and watched the flames. The heat, which had been intense, was not so much now as the old barn was consumed by the fiery beast.
It belched a huge cloud of smoke which was carried away from us by the wind.
The sounds of the burning timbers drowned out the noise of the pumps, vehicles and fire fighters.
The old barn was on my friend, Lucy’s property.
A controlled burn by the volunteer fire department of Kinkora was a training exercise
a and a quick way to dispose of the dilapidated structure. Lucy had purchased the property from her friend, Gerard, who was there to watch the proceedings.
Lucy, Gerard and I watched as the ten fire fighters arrived with trucks including a tanker, two pumper trucks,
and a rescue vehicle and set up their equipment. Rural Prince Edward Island has artesian wells which don’t have enough water pressure to supply the hoses. Because pumper trucks have a limited amount of water on them when they arrive at a fire, water must be tanked to a fire site where the pumper trucks provide the pressure to force the water through the hoses.
We watched as the water was emptied from the tanker into two reservoirs and it took only a few minutes to fill one of them and part of the other.
Then the tanker left to refill. The fire fighters worked efficiently to set up the equipment necessary to spray the grass around the old structure.
The chief kept a sharp eye on the situation and directed his crew where he saw a need.
Sparks rose high into the air though they posed no threat to the house or the out building. The fire fighters checked the buildings periodically to see if they were hot, then sprayed them down with water via the pumper trucks.
They were concerned especially about the windows of the house which, if too hot, would break when the cold water hit the glass.
As the last of the tallest timbers disappeared, Gerard said, “I wonder what father would think of this.”
“I wondered how you felt about it,” I said. Then added, “How old was the barn?”
Gerard, from the seat of his walker, spoke of the one hundred and fifty year old building which his father had bought from the Duffy family. His earliest memories of the barn go back to age four. By the time he was six, he was driving a tractor.
He remembered both his mother and father around the barn where they kept cows and the horses used to plow the fields. They both worked hard, as did the children as they grew.
Gerard remembered how his father reconfigured the barn over time and you could see, as the flames reflected in his fading eyes, the memories were easily accessible in his mind’s eye. He didn’t want to miss this occasion, the end of Duffy’s barn.
Later, Lucy asked Gerard if he wanted to go back to the Home and he said, “Yes.”
You can't burn the memories from a mind and the feelings from a heart.