There’s a bell that hangs from the oak in the pasture. It’s a remnant from another life, another place, hung with great care during the first months of living here. I didn’t know this pasture yet. I didn’t know the intimacy of the hills, the trees, the sandy clay soil that resists the efforts of even the toughest grasses. I didn’t know Jess, or who we would become together. She was simply the horse that came with the property. They didn’t want her anymore, and when I offered a dollar, they were glad. She lies in the red clay beneath this bell.
Steve made it from an empty gas cylinder and suspended a chain inside, with a thick wooden disk for a clapper. It is massively heavy, but the tree doesn’t mind. We move it slightly each year so that the chain doesn’t cut into the great arm that bears the weight from one season to the next.
The sound… how does one describe a sound? In a gentle breeze, its voice is low, open, resonant, and seldom sounds more than once. In the evening, it rises slowly and drifts across the pasture, up to my bedroom, where it melts into the walls and becomes the voice of candle light.
In winter, in the dead black of night when the wind howls and cuts mercilessly, its harsh insistent clanging is the voice of my concern for the horses and other animals who must endure until morning. In summer, when the heat burns the grass to dust and no breath of air stirs, it is silent. Wasps move inside, fizzing their wings against the rust. During apocalyptic summer storms, it sounds the chaos and urgency of trees holding deep in the earth, thrashing leaves and shuddering roots.
This morning, as I stand at the pasture gate under a brilliant blue spring sky, a single note rises warm and welcoming. It flows like silk, heralding warm days, bird songs, the chorus of evening peepers.
The grass is noticeably greener.
All photographs copyright Zen Doe