Sunday, May 30, 2010

heavy metal

One of the charms of my neighborhood is the church bells. They’re real. Every evening at quarter to six off they go. It’s interesting how I use the ringing to orient myself in time, sometimes subliminally, thinking I should start dinner, or find out whose house the kids are at, or realize more than half my life is over.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this focusing moment, although no one talks about it.

I lived in Kansas for awhile and there was a church on every second corner. Many rang “bells,” but they weren’t real. I don’t know what they were. Electronic? Recordings? Styrofoam? There’d be more beauty in someone coming out and ringing a dinner bell on the church steps.

I hope all the church-goers out there are asking god to stop that oil this morning.

Here's a short, sweet clip of bells in nearby Wiesbaden.


Jim Murdoch said...

When I was a kid back in the sixties the sound of church bells was commonplace. It's not until one reads a comment like yours that one realises that it's been many, many years since, even on a Sunday morning, I've heard the faithful being called to worship. I wonder where along the line they stopped?

Kathleen said...

Lovely! We have some real bells around here, and there were bells and a carillon in places I've lived in the past.

I love that focus moment.

Kass said...

Your marvelous description of "heavy metal" in your neighborhood brings to mind the metaphor of bell-ringing (and whistle-blowing). I'm picturing Quasimodo crawling up to his tower, sounding the alarm and calling people to their consciences about overwhelming world conditions like the oil spill. It may require becoming deaf and crippled from the effort to stop irrational methods.

SarahJane said...

I never read "Hunchback." "Les Mis" I've done twice and it was better the first time.

Where I grew up there were no bells nearby. We did have a big Catholic church not far away but I don't remember any bells pealing from there, real or unreal. And my family went to Friends Meeting, and there was only a small upright piano.

NE said...

Only HALF of your life is over? Lucky you! (Hope that helps.)

I like church bells, too, but have lived in rural settings, chiefly, far away from any churches. For me, then, it's the distant sound of the train wailing in the night. And rain hitting the roof and gurgling down the gutters.

Nice, that.

BJeronimo said...

I love how you bring in the longer range half-life. Or is it that your half-life is that of a mosquito.

Your blog post had me googling a mosqito half-life and found this:

I'm 47 but I can't hear anything beyond the 60 and under.

SarahJane said...

oh Bob
you just added a few more years to my already advanced age. how depressing. Although, does it mean that when those goddamned mosquitoes are flying around me at night in bed as I get older I won't hear them anymore? this could save my marriage, as I've said no more summers in sardegna unless those guys put screens on the windows.

Mitchell said...

The horrific sound you heard at those Kansas churches was the infamous "Electronic Carillons" which the Schulmerich company in Pennsylvania has been making for many decades, and they have an almost nasal, wavery stridency. Alas they have been used extensively all over the United States for many years, especially by Catholic churches, which, despite the heritage of Vivaldi and Mozart in Europe has alas succumbed to the dubious musicality of the folk mass and electronic organs. But there are still cast bells and real carillons; here in Massachusetts there are several but nothing like the quality found in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

SarahJane said...

Hi Mitchell!

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