I’ve been thinking a lot about time this weekend. All prompted by my husband winding up his grandfather’s mantel clock for the first time since we brought it to our home. The clock seems peaceful here, in our little rock country house, and the chimes it sounds are real chimes, not the plastic midi chimes produced by modern clocks. Last night I found myself holding my breath, waiting in the dark for the clock to strike, listening as the tones played out in the warm night air.
Those beautiful chimes made me look up the melody, which some folks know as the Westminster chimes (like Big Ben) but the web tells me are more properly known as the Cambridge quarters; named for the chimes at the Church of Saint Mary the Great in Cambridge, England. The chimes sound on each quarter-hour, and on the hour the clock finishes with a strike for each hour. I mention this because the story behind the purchase of the clock is part of its special place in out hearts. My husband’s grandmother lost her sight after she was an adult and her husband bought the chiming clock as an aide for her to know what time it was without having to ask. Because of the clock my husband began to talk about his grandfather, a cheerful, elegant man who I unfortunately never got to meet. He also had a farm in the country and my husband spent hours there as a boy, riding around the Texas farm on a lawn tractor, playing in the barn among the farm equipment and in the grain silo. His grandfather’s farm was a place he described as a young boy’s dream.
The chimes connect the years of my husband’s childhood with the present.The large brass key that winds the mantel clock also is the key to happy memories of family. The sounds of their laughter and love still sound sweet in the warm Texas night.