When I was a child in upstate New York, I often walked around our block, passing an old stone house on a corner where most of the kids in the neighborhood believed an ancient witch lived (it helped that the house resembled a miniature castle). I knew that wasn’t true because my mother had explained to me that an elderly widow and her maid inhabited the house; the reason no one ever saw this woman was because she was in poor health.
But there was something magical about the turreted stone house; each time I passed, especially in the winter or on a windy spring day, I’d hear the tinkling of chimes, and their eerie yet beautiful sound would always make me stop in my hurried tracks. I was a bit frightened that “the witch” might appear, yet the sound of the chimes was comforting—it possessed a sweetness that made me feel still inside.
Even as I’m writing this blog, my own chimes are tinkling in the August night, reminding me that as I sit here writing, the world outside is dark, breezy and filled with sounds of the present. Tonight is also a full moon, so between the chimes, the moon, the crickets, and the pattering raindrops, I almost expect that witch to appear.
Of course, I’m no longer afraid of witches (I rather like them), but chimes still appeal (no pun intended) to me (they must, as I now have several sets of them). Though they can drive one absolutely nuts on a windy March day, most of the time they are gentle reminders. In my youth, I loved them for their beautiful sound, but now my adoration goes much deeper (especially of those glorious, resonant Woodstock chimes). What I like best is the fact that you never know when they’re going to burst into your consciousness and remind you of the present moment. I can be thinking about bills and taxes, or dentist appointments or kids who don’t call, or how much work I have to do…and then, all of a sudden, I hear the chimes, and just say to myself, “Ah, yes. I’m here, now!”
On a very still day, the chimes aren’t of much use. But they’re still pretty to look at, and you never can tell when a breeze will stir them, seemingly just to wake you up!