When my house is quiet, which happens only in the early morning when all the kids are still asleep, sometimes I'll leave the front door open, with just a glass door between me and the snowy world. The cold will creep in, of course, but I want all the winter sunlight that spills into the hallway... and from my desk, I can hear the sound of the wind chimes on the front porch.
I bought these wind chimes summer before last. It was a sunny June day, and I had just had a visit from ArtistFriend. We'd been talking about all kinds of stuff - music and heartbreak and four-leaf clovers - and I remember sitting on the front porch watching his car pull out of the driveway, wishing he didn't live so far away. My house was filled, as usual, with kids and cats, and I could hear Spouse in the kitchen, piling mugs into the dishwasher. I took a moment to sit outside, feeling the sun on my legs, enjoying the stillness of the outdoors, and when I looked up at the porch roof, I thought to myself: I should buy some wind chimes.
I knew the chimes I wanted. I bought them at this incredibly tacky tourist place up on the river. They hang on my porch now, and when the wind rushes across my front lawn, we get these random bits of music. In the evening, I look forward to listening to the chimes when I go out to shovel the driveway. Our driveway is 150 feet long and we get lots of snow, so shovelling snow is a chore that needs to be done every night. Most people in rural areas here have plows and the suburbanites have snowblowers but I think it's great exercise to shovel. And I have any amount of teen-age help I can enlist if we get a big storm.
I like shovelling snow. Especially on a snowy evening, when all the curving banks of blue-tinted white make my house look like some kind of corny Christmas card. Through the windows, I'll see the rest of the family - kids doing homework or chores, Spouse cleaning up the kitchen, With-a-Why at the piano. I'll remember how lucky I am to have this home full of music and chatter and warm yellow light. When the wind gusts across the banks of snow, whirling it into the driveway again, the chimes on the porch offer bits of quiet music. I'll think of ArtistFriend and whatever crazy e-mail he sent me that week; usually he tells me to shut up and stop whining, and then he is sweet and nice and makes me laugh.
I'll look up at the moon to see where she is in the sky, shovel some random bit of the driveway, which during February looks something like a luge run, and watch my own breath disappear into the night sky. When I've had enough of the fresh winter air, I stand on the front porch to stamp the snow off my boots, and pause for a moment under the wind chimes, letting their music warm me for a moment before I go indoors.