Windchimes and Widow-Women in Paradise

No Telling

Writing about my sweet neighbor-lady’s political fright yesterday reminded me of a couple of neighborhood issues in our Walled Subdivision Paradise. First, a brief history.
I moved here a few years ago when this little circle of patio homes was still all construction and dirt and sticks in the ground connected by string. I was seduced by the promise of marble counter tops, six-inch ceiling mouldings, and of never again sweating over my own yard work. Living in a 100 year-old Downtown Grand Dame of a place was fabulous, and while I’ll always sigh a bit at leaving the wrap-around porch and Seven Sisters irises, that old house was more upkeep than any one woman could manage, even with an expensive and ever-changing team of electricians, plumbers, tree-men, and mowing neighbor-boys. I love the smell of New Construction in the morning. It smells like . . . victory.
What I didn’t know was my new Walled Subdivision Paradise would become a sort of weigh station for retirees either headed for The Home or The Grave. I don’t say this lightly. By the end of my first year here, I was the youngest resident by an easy twenty-five years and two neighbors had already passed into their Sweet Release. So far this year we’ve lost four.
There’s quite a bit of turnover in this ‘Burb.
Longevity is a woman’s prerogative, so the majority of these homes belong to widow-women with small yappy dogs and an abundance of hanging windchimes. I’m not sure why the windchime thing is so important, but there it is. Walk the circle on a breezy day and and it’s like driving home from a ZZ Top concert – a bit muffled and “huh?” for an hour or so. Everyone here has several chimes and at least one each of the gonging call-to-prayer variety usually reserved for Buddhist Temples.
I suspect I’m the only one bothered by the windchime concert because I’m the only one who can hear them. I’ve been on the porch on stormy nights watching for tornadoes as the wind whipped frantically through the streets. This happens regularly here and I always enjoy a good stormy night, but the collective throng of these hundred angered windchimes can drown out even the train-roar of an F-4. The widow-women sleep peacefully behind darkened windows and never know a thing, bless their hearts.
In our darkest moods, my daughter and I have plotted systematically vandalizing the larger and more mellifluous of the chimes. We have our moments. We won’t do it, though, because as well-brought-up Southern Women, we could never. If one of these widow-women should pass on in the night we committed a heinous windchime-attack, we’d never survive the guilt.
Or the prosecution. These old gals don’t play.

8 thoughts on “Windchimes and Widow-Women in Paradise

  1. I like how you put an enchanting spin on these old crazies around us…oneday very soon I will write my own version, ie: the flapping arm skinned woman yelling at me about dog poop, the neighborhood “meetings” about pointless cracks in the sidewalks, how they take up the entire street while driving and then give ME the evil eye like I’m the one on the wrong side of the road, and there will certainly be a few paragraphs on the wicked witch of the south next door….and her little dog too

  2. Your hood sounds like my retirement community. I don’t know what the deal is with the damned windchimes, but mother of God. One set is cute and sort of enchanting. One on every single cottage makes me want to rip my hair out. Emily and the dog thing cracked me up. We had a resident who had a little dog named Amber that tried to “attack” anyone that walked by. It was a miniature Chihuahua or something annoying like that and I used to growl under my breath, “Wait till your mama’s not looking you little rodent” while smiling and waving at said dog mama. They both just moved and I think it wasn’t a moment too soon, even though I’m a well brought up Southern Woman, too and wouldn’t dare drop kick the little bitch, no matter how much I might want to.

  3. My hood wasn’t really supposed to be a retirement community, it just morphed into one. Just to clarify things, Em and the old gal next door DO have a tense rleationship, especially where her dog is concerned. I’ll let her tell it.And just to complete the mental picture, the old gal just bought and began riding one of those old Schwinns with the basket on the front. A little too Oz for me.

  4. My grandmother is one of the wind chime ladies, but she lives out in the country not surrounded by houses, so it’s okay. She loves the dream catcher ones, which makes her more of a redneck grandmother than an old bitty. She also routinely parks on the side of the road early in the morning and digs her a piece of somebody’s rose bush or what have you, to transplant in her yard. When I was a little boy, she enlisted my help: I dug, she drove the getaway car. Two years ago, at the ripe old age of 66, my grandmother was finally caught and arrested for this activity. Only time she’s ever had a run in with the law, and Momma had to go pick her up at the police station. The charges were dropped, but I bet you, I just bet you, my wind chime-loving grandma would still stop and take a piece from your crepe myrtle.

  5. Oh, Tim. I love your grandmother and her felonious botanical thieving! You tell her to come to Conway and take all the plants she wants – as long as she helps me out with the windchimes. We could make this worth her while and Em could drive the getaway car.Olivander, I traded in the window-rattling thumpy thumps, the skateboards at midnight, AND the howling train for these windchimes. I’d trade back in a heartbeat right now. Just thinking about the hyped-up stereos threatening my old windows makes me a little weepy.

  6. I kind of miss the train, too. It just isn't the same here. We, however, don't have windchimes. Like Tim's grandma, mine had a set, too. (Although, they disappeared at some point… wonder if my grandpa “lost” them?) What is it about those grandmas and windchimes? My grandmother was also forever bringing cuttings and seeds and roots, but I think her old-lady friends cut them or saved them or dug them, so no arrest record in her past. Otherwise, Tim & I evidently have the same family– unrelated and in two different states. 😉

  7. Even though my country grandmother-in-law hated me completely, I still left from every visit with a back seat full of bulbs and cuttings in old Wal-Mart sacks.In my world a visitor brought food or wine as a hostess gift. In Naylor, AR you’d better show up with plants or be . . .discussed.

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