I’m teaching for a week here in Cedar Valley, near West Bend, Wisconsin. This is a 100-acre campus of green lawns and woods, a pond with a little bridge, lots of birds and flowers. It rents itself out for retreats like this, or for the weaving retreat coming later in the season, but generally the events here are religious in nature. There’s a chapel, a mediation room where I’m sitting writing right now — essentially a square gazebo, screened on all sides — and walking paths. Tidy gardens and flower borders bloom and naturalized pansies poke randomly through the pea gravel near the lodge, a phenomenon I’ve never seen before. All very bucolic and lovely, and conducive to contemplating the mysteries of the universe.
Except the place is studded with wind chimes. One of the mysteries of the universe, if you ask me, is why people like wind chimes. I hate them. I’m trying to listen to the songs of the birds, to the wind in the trees, to the silence itself, and my contemplative listening keeps being interrupted by ding-a-ling ding-a-ling. What’s the deal? Why would I need tinkling metal to cut into the rare-enough-in-this-world sounds of nature? They’re intrusive and annoying. I hate them in the city, too, by the way, where one doesn’t really need another noise. Am I so wrong? How do you guys feel?