It’s about Time

I love the sound of a nice ticking and chiming clock. It reminds me of all those Amish homes that I was in as a child and young person. Nearly every family had a chiming clock on a shelf in their living room. Even during church services, there was often a clock chiming out the quarter hour, the half hour, and the hour. There is something about this that gives me a feeling of inner calm. The chiming every fifteen minutes reminds me that there is a time for everything, and that life has its natural cycle, as the hands of the clock continue to go around and around the face of the clock. 

Right now it's time to organize and clean my house from top to bottom. Is there anyone else out there who has the urge to clean out, cull, and organize the stuff in their lives after the long, dark, and harsh winter that kept us feeling like Spring would never show her lovely face? The urge for me is so strong right now. I started with a closet that really needed to be organized, and that led to organizing photos, a whole big project in itself. Then when I had those all organized, I moved up into the attic. I've learned something about attic spaces… the bigger the attic, the more temptation there is to fill it. I was amazed at how many bins of STUFF we'd stuck in behind the knee walls. I sorted and culled the contents of every bin we had. Except for three or four that were David's things, and he sorted those today. Tomorrow I will clean the windows and sweep down the cobwebs and the floor in the attic and one story of our house will be spring cleaned. 

I find that time and memory are closely related. I normally associate my memories to a particular time and place in the course of my life. Some things trigger memory recall from several points in my life.

Such is the clock that David and I rediscovered in our attic. We had stored it there because it wasn't working. The back door had come off, and so David took it to his desk and put the door back on. If ever I want someone to figure out how to fix something, David comes to the rescue. While he was at it, he fiddled with it, to see if he could get it working. I was in the attic, not paying much attention, until the first sweet sound of the chimes wafted up the stairway. David said he thought it was wound too tightly, and the tension had to be unwound with it's ticking and chiming.

Long story short, with persistence, David got the clock working again. There was only one problem. The hour chime was one hour behind. So David figured out how to fix that, too. Now I have it here in my office on an extra desk, where I can hear it ticking, and every fifteen minutes, chiming. The sound of it reminds me of being in my maternal grandmother's house. This clock sounds just like hers did. 

I had another reminder of my Amish days this week, when I was poking around on the internet and found a recording of singing at an Amish wedding. It raises the hair on the back of my neck, as I listen. I sense that there is something sacred and profound about an Amish community of people getting together and singing these age-old songs. It takes me right back to an Amish wedding, when the singing was usually more spirited than at a church service. 

You can find the original recording, done by Ed Yoder, a former Amish person. I have also posted it permanently on the Amish Customs page of my website.

So, while I've been culling and organizing the stuff in my life, I've also revived memories through what some people call "material culture." The photos reminded me of all different phases in my life, and the clock reminds me that time keeps moving forward. Only in recalling our memories can we go back in time. 

The clock also reminds me of my sister, Lizzie, from whom I inherited it. I knew the clock wasn't working when I packed it to fly back home after her funeral. I checked into getting it fixed by a professional clockmaker, but I was advised by one of them that it was not worth the money. And so I stored it away, to be decided later. And then I forgot all about it.

Thanks to David, I now have a daily reminder of Lizzie.

It is coming up on five years in June since Lizzie lost her battle with cancer. I feel her presence when I listen to her clock ticking and chiming. I hope she knows she is remembered, and I hope her soul rests in peace. Someday I, too, will discover what lies beyond the sunset.

Which brings me to one of my favorite bluegrass hymns, this one sung by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.

Have you ever rediscovered a "treasure" you forgot you had? What was it? 

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10 thoughts on “It’s about Time”

    1. Tom, thank you for your comments and the link. I wonder if Mahlon is married to one of my cousins? I have quite a few out there. Thank you for the snapshots of his shop.

      Joyful travels to you!

  1. Fran Shultis

    Hi Saloma,
    My husband and I were given an old clock that belonged to his grandparents. They were given it as a gift for their wedding. Some overzealous individual, whose name I shant mention, used the key to rejuvenate the old beauty and went to far putting the innards into a temporary coma. He…er…I mean the individual took it to an old clock shop run by an ancient soul who barely spoke English. “Yes, ve can fix it.” With complete confidence the clock was left in the capable hands of the Clock Doc. A year went by. The poor little German made clock was forgotten.
    Another series of seasons passed and the individual, feeling sentimental for his dear gram and gramp, remembered the clock and decided to pick it up. Long story short, the shop had closed. And our
    poor little, neglected clock is but a sad memory.
    I always thought it would be great fun to own a cuckoo clock. But I would only want word of the time every hour. Otherwise, I would become annoyed by its need for attention every fifteen minutes.
    My sister recently found a savings bond I was given as a high school graduation gift. She was going through some old junk in the attic looking for yard sale money makers. I was pleasantly surprised when she called me from TN to let me know. I made quite a profit.

    1. Fran, I’m so sorry to hear about the family clock. I wonder what they did with the clocks in the shop when it closed? It seems like the family would have had an obligation to return the clocks. 

      Me too! About owning a cuckoo clock. Next time we’re in Europe, I really want to buy one and bring it back. We were in a clock shop in Germany in 2006, but David talked me out of buying one. Customs might be rather expensive, too.

      We sadly did not find any savings bonds in our attic. Just treasures of the sentimental kind. 

      Looking forward to meeting you soon.

  2. Elva Bontrager

    Saloma, listening to the wedding song raised the hair on my neck too! Probably no englischer would understand that that is a joyful song but I love the soaring tones and the calm pace. :) No wonder the Amish are tied to the soil; they are a patient sort.

    1. Elva, I know. You described it well… the soaring tones and the calm pace. I often thought of the wedding singing as rising up hills, and soaring into valleys. I hear the joy in this song… for sure. And it is more than personal joy… it is shared by the whole community, it seems. 

      Thank you for your comments, Elva. I always enjoy your perspective.

  3. Saloma, you’re far more diligent than I am. I feel the urge to Spring Clean and did get up on a ladder to clean some windows, but that’s the only accomplishment in that department so far. I really must cull out my extra books and clothes and take them to Gift and Thrift.

    I too like the sound of a Grandfather Clock or any other clock that chimes. We own two of them. One was made by a friend as a gift, and the other Stuart gave me on my 40th birthday.

    David is so good with fixing things! Handy!

    1. Shirley, maybe if your winter had been as long, cold, and snowy as it was here, you might already have culled those books and clothes. I really think this is me coming out of hibernation. Soon I will get to the windows, too. It’s been so cold here, that sorting and culling seemed to get first priority.

      I love a good grandfather clock (I’ve always wondered what a grandmother’s clock would sound like… maybe like the clock I just rediscovered :=). Maybe someday I will own one, but I may be getting too old to make such an investment.

      Yes, David is very good at fixing things. I appreciate him every day. I don’t verbalize my appreciation as often as I should. 

      Good to hear from you, Shirley. Happy Spring!

  4. Dear Saloma,

    Hope you don’t mind me writing this here, but I don’t know how to contact you otherwise.

    Just want to let you know that we will discuss your book in an ESL class in China here. We’ve already studied Amish culture and now we’ll be studying your book too!

    Greetings from an ESL teacher in China,

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