In my mind, it is so fresh it squeaks and so new it gleams. In reality, the once bright red paint is chipped and worn. The wood finish worn dry and raw. One wheel bends every so slightly inward as I drag it from a dark corner of the barn.
I wonder when was the last time this little red wagon saw the light of day?
Today we are cleaning the barn. (We use the term cleaning loosely. I think what we are doing is more like excavating and rearranging).
Year 20 is when we finally admit we can probably get rid of the dried-up paint cans and half tubes of caulk, scrap and old furniture.
Our collection of inflatable pool toys that don’t hold air — for a pool we no longer have — is amazing. We also have hoarded tarps, chains, and for some inexplicable reason, grill grates. We have so many grill racks and I have no idea why.
Days gone by
The wagon, however, is my focus right now. I pull it into the yard. It’s dirty, dusty, and covered in years of leaves, bug carcasses and debris. I drag it over to the pressure washer and commence rinsing what must be 15 years of neglect off the sturdy wooden frame.
As the grime washes away, the years do as well. The lettering, still visible, though faded, says “Berlin Flyer.” Then and now, this was an expensive wagon.
I can still see Boywonder, then just a round baby on his first birthday, looking pensive after being plunked in it among the chaos and crowd of birthday festivities.
Later it went to fairs, walks and hauled his little sister and rocks all around the property. As with even the best toys, it was eventually outgrown. One day it was tucked into the barn and there it stayed.
Days and weeks turning into years. His wheels grew to two-wheeled bicycles and then four wheels and a set of keys. Mr. Wonderful says it is the result of succumbing to fumes: perfumes and car fumes. That’s good for a laugh.
Still, my heart catches a bit as I spray the buildup of time off this little red wagon. Pinterest says I could paint it, plant flowers in it, maybe turn it into a clever coffee table.
I think, as the old finish and old paint returns to some shadow of former glory, I’m not going to do any of that. I think I’m going to leave it exactly as it is.
Age, time, love and use have made it what it is today. Smoother, more worn, but still sturdy and solid.
We know that summer days are fleeting, playtime eventually ends, or at the very least boys grow into bigger toys. Boywonder stands 6 feet tall. His sturdy frame will no longer fit, no matter how sturdy the wagon. Still, it is his.
I will dry it off, grease the wheels, and wheel it back into the barn. I don’t like to wish time away and it’s much too soon now.
In the days of cleaning up and giving away, this little red wagon will stay. Maybe someday, if we are really lucky and truly blessed, in the future, we will wheel it out for another first birthday surrounded by love, laughter and someone just settling in with their first set of wheels.
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