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  • Jill K. Sayre

Shedding Inspiration


I’ve been living in a shed for the past two years.

Well, not literally, but I feel like it. I'm writing a book where the main character hides in a shed and watches his beloved. Putting myself in his shoes, I am there, with the cobwebs and the spiders that made them, the rusty bicycle, gardening tools, and the coiled up hose. To live in a shed, well that would be difficult, trust me. And it's a shed that brought that piece of inspiration to my story.

This first picture was taken in the 1970’s. This is the one I remember as a kid. That's my grandpa. Behind it rages Brokenstraw Creek, where I’d fish, swim, and swing out on a rope, landing in the cool water on hot summer days, occasionally returning to shore with a few leeches on my ankles. Yuck!

My dad explains this picture (LEFT): "The 1890 Black Smith shop looked like this when we bought the house. It was two-story, big steps on the right inside. The senior people of Youngsville, in 1975, came by to tell us about it. We had hope of keeping it. We thought we could restore it. Your grandfather did not want to and said it was too close to the creek, requiring a lot of Borough permissions and issues. We did find three Indian head pennies with metal detectors back in the dirt in front of it . . .”

My parents bought the house (RIGHT) in Youngsville, Pennsylvania for my grandparents. This is where they lived out the rest of their lives. It’s the only house on the short stretch of Main Street, with a pharmacy on one side, and a creek overlooked by a restaurant/bar on the other. I spent nearly every summer there as a kid and teenager, and even one Christmas. The musty smell of that old house is imprinted in my memory. A maple tree, wild berries, and my grandparents’ garden full of gigantic vegetables all grew behind it. My grandmother could grow sunflowers eight feet tall--I remember how small her 5'2" frame looked standing below their big brown faces with bright yellow fringe.

But then my grandfather got rid of the old blacksmith shop. It made me sad. I often thought about the people who travelled by horseback to get items repaired, like horseshoes or wagon wheels. As a child I was sure the ghosts of that shop appeared at night--I was quite frightened of it at dark. But it's untold history always amazed me. And in its place a metal storage shed was errected, living as the new vigilant entity by the creek for the next thirty years (LEFT), until my father took it down to replace it . . .

"We got the new one from "Yoder’s Sheds" in Sugar Grove. We selected the salt box design, put the double doors on the end, single door on one side. We bought it from Joe Yoder and his dog Rover Yoder--he had a rooster but he said it was "mean". It took 17 days from the order date; Joe came with the truck driver to deliver it. Really good useful tilt truck. We tore down and removed the old 30-year-old metal shed that was on the 100-year-old concrete Black Smith shop pad, and cleared it for the larger shed."

I think this is a lovely replacement, made with loving hands by a local Amish family. It looks happy to be there, ready to shelter whatever item a person trusts to put inside. And as I said, it is this shed that has brought me my latest inspiration, and so has the town of Youngsville, PA, where it stands. My next book, Grotesque, is about a gargoyle that comes to life and falls in love with a human girl. He is so hideous, he can only watch her through the window of the shed across from her house, pining away. That's where I've been in my mind for a while now. Inside that shed. But trust me, my gargoyle finds a way out, driven by passion, even though the risk of what could be lost is great.

#shed #amish #story #writer #author #youngsville #pennsylvania #grotesque #gargoyle #book #inspiration

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 Writer of Magical Realism for Middle Grade and Young Adult Readers

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© 2020 by Jill K. Sayre