Friday, January 20, 2017

Time To Dream of Clocks

By Ruth Clagan of the Clock Shop Mysteries by Julianne Holmes

Time is so interesting. I'd think that, even if it wasn't my business. My business, in case we haven't met yet, is horology. In layman's terms, I'm a clockmaker. The passion for time, and time pieces, has been passed down from generation to generation. The proclivity toward clockmaker has been part of me for as long as I remember. Visiting my grandparents every summer just fueled the passion. Inheriting their shop, the Cog & Sprocket, has been both an honor and a privilege.
But back to my ruminations on time. These dark days of winter slow down time a bit, at least for me. Since I live and work in my shop, I don't get out much. If I run out of food, I go down the road to the Corner Market to stock up. More likely, I go by the Sleeping Latte and get a meal. I always try and pay, but the Moira Reed won't let me. And then she always puts an extra cookie in my bag for later.
One great thing about these long days? Plenty of time to work. Fixing clocks, or rebuilding them, takes a lot of concentration. You can do everything right, and they don't keep time perfectly. So you have to go in, add weight, tighten this, replace that, until it works. The work for me is about precision. Precision requires patience. And time.
I think about time, and the idea of tracking it, a lot. When I was a little girl I remember my grandfather struggling with a beautiful old longcase clock that hadn't worked in years.
"Close enough is good enough," his friend Grover Winters has said when he brought it in. "I just want to see her running again. I'll happily adjust the hands a minute or two on winding day."
No matter what he did, my grandfather couldn't get the clock to keep perfect time. He finally admitted defeat one Saturday when Grover came in for a visit.
"Maybe she's keeping the time of another place, or planet?" Grover said. The two men laughed, but I've never forgotten the surge in imagination that fueled.
Maybe a slow clock is just perfect somewhere else? And that the clock is a glimpse into that other place?
That's the kind of thinking I do on these long, cold, New England winter days. How about you?


  1. Oh! I love this! My grandfather was a clockmaker. Of course all of use fight over which ones we will get as the older generations pass...not many out there anymore.

  2. I'm starting to think that I've lost at least a "half a step" at this point in my life. I've even left the stove on twice in the last month or so. Time eventually catches up with all of us. Sometimes with a small kiss and other times with a strong right hook.

  3. What long cold winter days? It was 80 degrees here in south Louisiana. I had my air conditioner on today.

  4. Well, now I know what to get my daughter for her birthday (which is coming up, come to think of it). She is nuts about all things time-keeping. Her collection of clocks and watches numbers approximately 50 now, 90% of which are clocks. From where I am, I can see 3 wall clocks, 4 shelf clocks and grandfather clock. Her favorite tee shirt has a picture of the Elizabeth Tower (where Big Ben 'lives') on it. Her favorite place to visit? The clock shop in Danville. :O)