For Father’s Day my kids gave me a new set of wind chimes. I acted surprised, and exceedingly happy. And indeed I was happy. But not surprised. After all, I told them what I liked and where to get it. It’s a little more special than it sounds though.
We were at the beach for our vacation on Father’s day this year. Not planned, it just worked out that way because of everyone’s schedules. We usually go to Florida for the beach, but this year we were in Virginia. Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. Assateague is a national park. It’s so undeveloped that there are ponies that roam wild on the island. They are a big deal and every year they swim over to Chincoteague for the great pony swim.
So it’s a new place for us. And different from the commercial beaches we tend to go to. Not that we favor them, we just tend to go there. Anyway, they told me that since this was a different kind of trip, and Father’s Day was involved, I should be on the lookout for something special to take home as a souvenir. I knew exactly what they meant. Something they could give to me as a memento of our family trip to this special place. Cool.
Over the course of our stay we hit a number of shops. Art galleries, beachy tourist traps, and some gift shops. I didn’t need postcards, t-shirts or alligator heads. You know, that kind of stuff. And since my kids are students they couldn’t buy me any great artworks. But in one shop I found the wind chimes.
I’ve always loved the wind chimes they make in Maine. They tune them to sound like the buoys at various lighthouses along the coast. And they are expensive. I have a job and can’t afford them. But these were made in Virginia, were well made, and had a very nice tone to them. They just didn’t sound like any particular famous bell. Just a nice bell. And they were affordable.
These kinds of chimes always sound a little melancholy and they reminded me of a time earlier in my life when I lived near the ocean. At the time I went to Naval Officer Candidate School it was located in Newport, Rhode Island. It’ moved since to Pensacola, Florida. Warmer there. That’s another story for later. We lived in a brick barracks building and my room faced Naraganset Bay. The bay was about fifty yards from my window. I was there in the dead of winter and at night I could lay in, I mean, on my bed and hear the buoys clanging in the bay. The buoys mark the navigation channels for ships. Each buoy has either a green or red light on it and they bang away with their motion on the water to warn sailors in the fog about the channel. All night long I’d hear a kind of distant clanging. Soothing in a way. A guardian in the darkness.
Ever since then I’ve enjoyed listening to the sound of the chimes as wind blows through them. I have five now. They are made of different things. Metal tubes, glass, old silverware, old bells. Two are sentinels calling out the opening and closing of the outside doors to my house, and three are just to sooth my soul.
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