DecorFamily September 27, 2021

Sound Memories

homemade copper pipe windchimes

I was reminded this weekend of the incredible transporting power of sounds, as I rehabbed some windchimes that my grandfather made for my grandmother at least 40 years ago. These chimes hung at the back corner of their cottage on Camano Island all my life, providing the soundtrack for their beloved vegetable garden. Grandma wanted some windchimes, and there was nothing my grandpa wouldn’t do for her – and nothing he couldn’t build, fashion, or fix. He went out to his workshop (maybe to sneak a cigarette) and emerged later with “custom” windchimes made from lengths of spare copper pipe, formica from their countertops, bits of translucent plastic from their kitchen cabinet windows, and held together with string, fishing line, and small nails. Grandma loved them, and because she did, so did I. We’d harvest peas, weed the onions, pick raspberries, and snip the hungry caterpillars in the garden with the low tinkle of these chimes in the background.

When they downsized 20 years ago, I got the windchimes. The string was disintegrating, the plastic was cloudy, the copper tarnished and rusty, but I cherished them. When the windcatcher cracked, I glued it back together (something grandpa would have done, though he didn’t have miracle E-6000 glue in those days!) – but put them away to prevent further damage. This week, with fresh copper paint and new fishing line, I revitalized the windchimes and hung them in a temporary spot at my house to try them out. With the first breath of wind, the sound memory was immediate – the exact tones from my childhood, not heard in so many years, came softly ringing from my own backyard. I slept with the doors open to hear them all night, knowing my grandparents were nearby and smiling.