me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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The bells of Assisi

Assisi, as you might imagine, is full of churches, from the huge Basilica to tiny little chapels tucked into convents. The one I can see from my window, San Pietro, has a tall square bell tower, a raised round roof over the transept, a long nave and short apse. The interior is plain and rough, not frescoed, painted, or carved. (Ellen Eagle, who teaches pastel here, likes it best because it reflects her medium.)

Most of the churches have bells. At various times of day, the town resounds. At seven a.m. one of the monastery churches near here rings a single bell, over and over, calling the monks to Mass. At seven-fifteen San Pietro's bells start, to do the same for the lay faithful, and again at 6pm, for the lazy faithful. San Pietro has three bells. From my writing desk I can not only hear them through the open window, I can see them. For centuries they were rung by hand. Now they're done mechanically. They're different sizes, these bells, and therefore swing at different rates. When men pulled them they could adjust to one another's pace and get a steady rhythm going: bing, bang, bong, bing, bang, bong, bing, bang, bong. The mechanical bell-pull, though, pulls them all at the same rate. Because the smaller they are, the faster they swing, you get an ever-changing pattern of sound this way. If you're having trouble with this, think of the windshield wipers on a bus. You've seen this: as opposed to the ones on your car, each has its own motor, and they go in and out of synch, a continually changing relationship. This is what happens with San Pietro's bells. It's absolutely wonderful to hear. I have to stop, watch and listen every time.

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