Here in the rural upper Midwest, it seems every other person has a pole barn. Usually it’s full of old tires, old brakes, a trailer, dozens of tools gathering rust, coffee cans loaded with lug nuts and screws. But then almost nobody in America lives like the desert monks.
Ed and Edna’s place is pretty typical, I think. Her cupboards, bureaus, cabinets, garage, attic and spare bedroom have been crammed full of things that define her. (“Oh, you know Edna Furbelow,” says her neighbor, “she collected Hummels.”) Every once in a while, Edna took some of the clutter out to the front yard and sold it, although no one stepping inside her house ever knew the difference. Now that Edna has died and her husband’s pole barn has finally gotten emptied, everything must go.