The Pasture Bell

078There’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.

Bell Sized

All photographs copyright Zen Doe

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60 Comments on “The Pasture Bell

  1. Beautiful post, both verbally and visually. It’s been said that each of us has a unique tone that we respond to, a primal reverberation. I think you’ve found yours, and you’ve inspired me to search for mine. Thank you for this rediscovered wisdom.

    • How wonderful! I’d never heard about that. The day has become very windy, and the bell is clanging over and over. I’ll be thinking about this primal reverberation.

  2. ZD Your post is lovely and smooth on my heart this morning. It makes me long for the lost church bell of my childhood. Not that it was church, but that it was a bell.Thanks for filling the hollow space where the bell used to live. It’s a heart connection freedom sound to me. Peace be with you. Alice

    • Alice, thank you for ringing that church bell from your childhood for me. I hear it through your heart.

  3. Many times while reading the post I was talking mental notes of the way you write. Your details and description amazes me each and every time. And you say – “The sound… how does one describe a sound?” and then successfully describe it effectively, one word after the other. Great Post!

  4. That’s quite some bell. I hear it now, across the country, and feel it’s calming sound. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  5. The sound “flows like silk…” I think I can hear it now. Beautiful

  6. Thank you for taking me through your pasture today and sharing the sounds…sort of feels like I’ve been to a church service of some kind…. 🙂

  7. Loved this post, Zen….listening to the bell chime. I live the life of a gypsy myself, and just this past week moved once again pulling out the objects that lend continuity… finding their new place. My grand daughter and I “washed” the ocean, river and canyon rocks I carry along and unpacked the “children’s” box of rubber lizards, Mexican bobble heads, wind up monkeys and what nots collected with each grandchild and passed along to the next…. Certain objects beautifully resonate our history and take on life with us. It is suggested not to treasure “things” but I am sure this is more simply, to not put them above life. It is pure pleasure when they become so intrinsic to the joy of it. It was lovely being able to share this with you this morning. xxoo

    • Thank you for the story of your unpacking. It made me smile. The sound of that bell has been a part of so much here for me. Your words made me think, for the first time, about what it would be like if I move from here. What would I do with the bell? How could it move to another place? Perhaps best to leave it? Interesting

  8. I am deeply moved by your post. In our overly demanding culture, there are not enough cow bell and pasture moments for most. I treasure these moments beyond saying.

    • Just as I was about to reply to your sweet comment, at that exact moment, a breeze came up and now the bell is bonging away for you. Listen…. gong….gong….gong….

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