Some years ago, ML, a dear friend of decades, traveled to London. While there, she bought this small bell, designed to be worn by a sheep or goat. When she returned home, she presented me with this little treasure and said, “I wasn't sure if you had an animal bell...”. No, I didn't but she started me on the way to a small, melodious collection of, mostly, animal bells.
Not for me the beautiful yet fragile, glass, tinkly bells. No, I have always desired the sturdy, time tested, time worn and, preferably, hand made of whatever venue. This now includes bells. A lot of my bells are handmade or, in this day and age, the word is “handcrafted” and all are sturdy and produce sounds ranging from a deep clanging of a cow bell worn to the tinnier sound of the bells worn by horse, sheep or goat.
When Dave and I traveled in Eastern Europe, we were both always on the lookout for animal bells. These, and the one on the right, as evidenced by its tag, were found in Romania and all designed for a horse. Frankly, I cannot imagine having such a clanging going on aside my head but humans, as mostly always, do what they do without considering the animal. Or, perhaps, the humans did what they did and considered all animals...as in notifying folks ahead there was a horse and wagon approaching. During all our travels, I only once saw a human riding a horse and that was for the benefit of tourists; it was invariably always a horse pushing a wagon. As an aside, the horse collar is designed so the horse pushes against it and the wagon has no choice but to follow...ingenious design!
This bell was purchased on our trip to 2004 Russia. It was this trip that necessitated my first passport and, come to think of it, the first bell ever in my collection. It now reminds me of wonderful memories of foreign travel. Dave and I were in Yaroslavl, Russia at a museum where a bell maker had a nice collection of his hand poured bells. Our translator, a former ABC guy (which is what I called the no-neck former KGB man) pressured Dave into buying the bell. Dave was furious but we were alone in a country where we didn't speak the language and the translator had been arranged by the man who had arranged the trip (and would arrive much later) so Dave purchased the bell. Frankly, I'm glad he did as it's a wonderful reminder of a fabulous trip where we did so many exciting things and met so many incredible people. Even so, Dave had many awful things to say about the ABC guy and none were complementary!
This bell was purchased in Ukraine, at a flea market. Ah me, I could have spent a small fortune at that flea market but came home with this bell, some textiles and carried home a hand made from wood pieces room divider to give to my sister. That dratted thing weighed a small ton and I'm not sure my back has ever recovered from carrying it around until I got to the airport and boxed it. Back to the bell...the leather collar is held in place by a hand carved wooden clasp; both leather and wood are well worn, the leather somewhat stiff with age but still a thing of beauty.
This bell is Polish, or rather, was purchased in Poland. That's about all that can be said as it's unknown where the bells were made or by whom. Especially the hand made bells because it's impossible to know the history but the well worn patina from both being hand crafted and worn by many animals, handled by many hands is still a sweet mystery.It embarrasses me I cannot remember where I purchased this bell, above. Perhaps my memory will surprise me one day...or not.
This bell still has its leather collar which is in, surprisingly, good shape and could be used today with no other preparation. This one and the one below were purchased in Southport, NC at an antique shop. The shop owner said the, now deceased, bell owner traveled a good deal in Europe and she thought the bells might be European. It pleases me to know another woman found delight and mystery in such simple, hand made goods. Another woman saw the beauty in the everyday, hand made and found these bells worthy of being bought, carried home and admired.
This one is a cow bell, pounded out on some farmer's anvil and has a deep, melodious sound that brings to mind a placid cow, walking across an alpine pasture with nothing more serious on her mind than good grass, sweet water and being milked come evening.
That's what comes of getting ready to move; no, the farm hasn't sold yet but like Noah ben Shea said, "Be patient. Patience is also preparation. It is the action before the act." Like I've always said, "Wait is a verb." While waiting, I'm giving away, packing, tossing and wondering at a life well lived here on Thistle Cove Farm. Dave and I made it a
good great life, one full of memories, good times, mementos and, it seems, every little thing has a history, a story and I can recall almost each one. I've begun using a small white tag to write where something was purchased or why it's special. I'm told the provenance of something, when written down or proven, makes the item more valuable. I know it makes the item more valuable in that when I read that small tag, memories, precious memories, flood over, around, through me and I'm transported to that time and place. It's part of the healing process, a good part, and I'm grateful.
Blessings ~ ML ~ a melodious small collection of bells ~ Willie Nelson ~ Precious Memories ~ Noah ben Shea ~ Dave ~