“What time is it, please?”
Grandfather, the German patriarch, has ruled the family for four generations. Standing proudly in the front hall, rich wood polished to a shine, he chimes on the quarter and strikes at the top of the hour with thundering tones echoing through the house. He relies on our hands, someone to pull the heavy chain, to wind him daily, or he will fall silent.
Across the hall hangs Stepmother. Dressed in cheap fabricated burgundy “wood”, her pendulum and chains are only for show—she runs on a single C-battery. Her chimes are mechanical—tinny—and easily overpowered by Grandfather. She is often relieved of the battery.
Quietly, over the fireplace, sits Father, his classic lines seamlessly flowing into the rich brick mantle. During the daytime he enjoys an unobstructed view of the trees, valley, and mountains beyond the windows. He runs without tending; the time he tells is accurate somewhere.
The Unmatched are sprinkled throughout the house and sit with Father on the mantle. Pewter and glass, silver and gold, they sport classic designs and housings made of carved animals. They, too, inhabit different times.
Downstairs, in the territory of youthful rabble, Clock Clock has her own mantle above the wood stove where she whimsically rules the recreation room. Next to Grandfather, she is the favourite. That’s not to say that she lives in the same time as any of her family.
This is a house in flux, in transition, owned and unowned, still occasionally inhabited.
Time is meaningless. Day becomes night when the temperature drops and the sun sets. Rush hour is marked by hummingbirds at the feeder who dive-bomb anyone that happens to get in the way. It’s either time to put the coffee on or time to light the fire—bookends to days that follow their own rhythms.
In The House of Many Clocks, no one knows what time it is.