Southern Scribe
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Porch Tales    



Wind Chimes

By Dorothy K. Fletcher



The sound usually comes to me on the soft Florida breezes, but in the spring that sound almost comes in blasts as the winds roar through the trees--my neighborhood--my wind chimes.       

I can't even remember who gave me my first set of wind chimes--who first set my heart soaring with the magical tinkling sound that they made, but I suspect that it was my father.  I believe that he brought them home to me from Japan that he had visited when he was serving in the Navy in the Korean War.

These wind chimes were made of a handful of glass pieces about the size and shape of microscope slides.  Each had been cheerfully painted with red and white paint by a worker somewhere in the Orient.  The pieces were then strung from little strings from concentric circles of red bamboo. Then we hung them from the ceiling of a corner in our screen porch.  I was truly mesmerized by the sound these little wind chimes made.  It was such a happy sound, unless, of course, a thunderstorm threatened.  Then the sound became a little hysterical, and I worried that they might disintegrate on the spot.  They never did, though, until we moved.  Then they mysteriously went the way of all "things lost" during great migrations.

When we moved to Florida, I discovered a new kind of wind chime, ones made of beach shells.  These chimes were usually strung with strings of mollusk shells suspended from an interesting piece of driftwood.  I would like to think that the natives made these chimes indigenous to Florida, but more than likely they too were made in Japan.

Although these chimes did not produce the same sound as my first set, the sound they made was still delightful.  They were cheerful in timbre and tone, and their earth colors and origins made for a sixties kind of back-to-Mother-Earth-mentality that I was beginning to espouse back in those days.  Whatever happened to these chimes, I don't remember.  More than likely they are in a box in the attic along with my bell-bottoms and dashiki shirt and are best left to the past.

My most recent set of wind chimes was made of metal pipes of varying lengths.  Supposedly, these pipes were carefully designed by Buddhist monks to create tones that are soothing to the soul.  Since I got this set of chimes at Ace Hardware, I seriously doubt my soul was a factor in their design.  I have to admit, though, that listening to them sing in the breeze while I sip my iced tea in the summer or a mug of hot cocoa in the winter has been most soothing to my sensibilities.

Of course, I probably am one of those obnoxious neighbors that Ann Landers' readers write about, ones who keep the neighbors up all night with their eccentricities--like wind chimes.  What I have noticed about the chimes that hang right outside of my bedroom window is that they have just become a part of the sounds of life out there.  They have become like a mantle clock or those grandfather clocks that chime every hour on the hour.  At first they keep the family up all night with their noise, but then, as time passes, they become part of the surroundings.  Unless a person makes an effort to hear them, he or she usually doesn't.

I guess it is my soul that listens to the wind chimes now.  My conscious self rarely hears them anymore, except when the wind really kicks up.  Then I am flooded with a variety of wonderful impressions that will surely make me see to it that wind chimes hang always in the corners of my life.    

"Wind Chimes" was originally published in The Florida Times Union on May 18, 1996.  

Dorothy K. Fletcher( is a poet, a freelance writer, and a devoted language arts teacher at Wolfson Senior High School in Jacksonville, Florida.  Many of her articles have appeared in The Florida Times Union, and her poetry has appeared in over 70 literary magazines and anthologies.  Her first novel The Cruelest Months ( ISBN 1-4010-6124-9) was released in October by Xlibris Press, and it tells of the experiences of a white first-year teacher trying to survive in a predominately black, inner-city school.  The book draws heavily from Fletcher’s 30 years of real-life teaching experience in the Duval County School System, and it often shows that gunshots, fistfights and poetry are often all-in-a-day’s-work for today’s public school teacher.  The book is also available in either soft or hard cover at and

© 2003, Dorothy K. Fletcher, All Rights Reserved