I’m sitting on my front porch. It’s cold and windy and the light I’m using to see what I write only extends about 20 feet into the yard. It creates a small bubble of security, and the line where it fades into the dark neighborhood feels like a fence, or a force field, or a giant impenetrable wall.
And then a police car passes slowly in front of my house, the glow from the porch glances off the reflectors on the roof and I wonder how my quiet little street wound up on their regular patrol. This is a recent change. Until a few months ago, I never saw cops here. I wonder what they are looking for. I wonder why the sight of the police in my library is reassuring, but in my neighborhood, it is disconcerting.
What is the danger I am ignoring?
What am I forgetting to be afraid of?
Are they looking for me?
These are my thoughts.
But then the wind hits the chimes that hang from my roof and I lose myself in the familiar song that so often plays in the background whenever I write outside at night. The chimes are well tuned and soft, never clanging, never abrasive or sharp, and if it weren’t for the weak light and the dull music, I wouldn’t be able to sit out here feeling safe and sheltered. Because I am afraid of what I cannot see and what I sometimes think I hear, like footsteps and breaking glass and loud TVs and crying children and speeding cars.
I know this bubble of protection is an illusion, that the light is no insulation, and I know that the sound of my wind chimes fills the whole neighborhood.
I wonder if it bothers anyone.
And then I don’t care.
Because maybe they like it.
Maybe it reassures them too.
Maybe it’s part of the night sounds.
Maybe it’s a mask for the other noise, like the traffic on the main road, like the beagles up the street.Maybe it’s an accompaniment to the cracking branches and the shifting shushes of the pine needles brushing like waves in an arid sea.