Monday, 25 November 2013

The Comfort of Chimes

I live near a church and every time it chimes the quarter-hour, it takes me back to my grandparents' house on the shores of Lake Erie. They had an old-fashioned, chiming clock on their mantelpiece above the fire. I have such distinct memories of lying in my bed there, reading late at night, and listening to that clock. It made me feel safe and anchored. My grandfather built that house from scratch and nothing ever changed the whole time they lived there.

Every time we visited (usually twice a year as children), my brother and I would run to each room and check that everything was the same: puzzles and games in the cupboard under the fish tank, the old piano (always hopelessly out of tune) right where we left it in the corner of the basement in between my grandfather's workshop and my grandmother's laundry room. A quick peek in the tall, shallow cupboards that lined the walls revealed shelf after shelf of tins and jars of food Grandma had stockpiled or canned herself: peaches, pickles, jam, apple butter, beans….

And, finally, I always went and sat in the garage for a few minutes on my own, just to sink into that familiar smell of wood shavings, gasoline, grass clippings, autumn leaves and that slightly musty smell of things that have been stored for decades. Everything was so blissfully familiar. I had a lot of upheaval after we packed up and moved continents in my childhood, so being able to go to that house that forever stayed the same, which housed two people I loved beyond measure, was supremely reassuring.

Is there any sight, smell or sound that takes you back to a particularly peaceful or happy time? How can you incorporate it into your daily experience? Maybe burning a cinnamon candle to remind you of eating cinnamon toast on cold, snowy mornings or planting a scented rose bush to remind you of visits to your favourite aunt's house or a framed, photo montage of things that make you smile. Anything that will trigger a pause and a happy thought will do. It's a nice ritual to sneak into a busy life.

All the feelings of love, peace and security that I associate with my grandparents rush back each time there is enough of a lull in the city din for me to hear those church bells. I listen out for them now and when I hear them, I pause and am grateful for the comfort their chimes bring.

No comments:

Post a Comment