While the intensity of the peepers has diminished somewhat since they burst onto the scene several weeks ago, their din still blankets the evening. Their mating calls at dusk provide the soundtrack for a walk down Mission Farm Road, formerly Route 4. Their noise covers the various bird calls that also mark the crepuscular hours.
The shift from the still quiet of winter, when snow muffles everything and the birds have migrated south, to the profusion of sounds in June always comes as a surprise. All of a sudden, the fields and river banks teem with all sorts of creatures that squawk, squeal (who knew that bears squeal?!) or sing.
Life on Mission Farm Road provides a study in sound, both natural and human-made. Though somewhat stifled, the sound of loud pipes from motorcycles drifts across the marsh. Trucks occasionally roar by. The interrupted traffic flow from the bridge construction by the intersection of Routes 100 and 4 affects the usually ever-present overtone of rumbling. (If one walks up beyond the first ridge on the church’s property, one can get beyond all traffic noise.)
Even the church building proper contributes to the ambient sounds. A couple of weeks ago, three of us climbed up into the church bell tower to repair the two church bells which had stopped functioning. One bell has a rich mid-range tone; the pitch of the other bell is a higher, more metallic sound. The rope to the large bell had gotten hung up on a board when someone had let it snap too vigorously. The small bell was simply stuck — a problem that some WD-40 fixed easily. In a short matter of time, we could ring both bells. We were motivated to free them from their silence because Church of Our Saviour was hosting a week-long contemplative retreat for out-of-state visitors. They were going to keep the monastic hours, including 3:30 a.m. Lauds. (Somehow the vicar, who lives across the street, managed to sleep through the five-minute peal every morning.)
The regularity of prayer marked by the bell tapped into another moment in Church of Our Saviour’s history, the era of the Rev. Truman Heminway, who served here from 1931-1957. A priest-farmer, he tilled the land and kept the Benedictine pattern of morning, noon and evening prayer. Daily he would toll the bell for Evensong. A local farmer once said, “Al’ays good to know somebody’s a-praying.”
We do not ring the bell every evening but we are “al’ays a-praying” as we work in the gardens to the left of the church or mow the river path (which is always open to the public, as are our trails in the woods behind the church) or bake goodies.
On Sunday mornings, however, we do ring the bell — with much gusto — to announce our worship. Now, if only there were some way we could get the peals heard over by the Skyeship…
“Musings from Mission Farm” is an occasional reflection on life in the valley on the Sherburne Flats. Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal) has ministered to the Killington region since 1894. The Rev. Lee Alison Crawford serves as its pastor and also volunteers as a Mountain Ambassador at Killington. All are welcome to worship with us Sundays at 9:30 a.m.