I grew up in a houseful of clocks.
My dad's hobby was making clocks, and repairing old ones. Six eight ten clocks in the family room, all arriving on the hour with a whir of coiled springs, chiming in fantastic discord.
On the wall, the huge blonde Regulator longdrop school calendar clock, keys set dusty on its very top, with the cotton gloves you wore to reach into its windings. On the mantel, two brass-handled carriage clocks set in heavy casings. Two Seth Thomas Westminster Chime clocks, metal-faced, sloping in low parabolas. A clock with all its shiny mechanisms visible, always click clicking behind glass, hammer always ready at the bell. Two elaborately carved German parlor clocks, gold scallops painted across their doors.
On the dining room wall, a small, steady Regulator, clean lined and porcelain-faced, in a tailored case shut lynchpin snug with hook and eye. On the workbench downstairs, an antique cuckoo clock, parts strewn in oily arcs, pinecone-shaped counterweights dangling from tangled chains.
Inside the cases, no dust, but the smooth swing of pendulum, the tick of the tense mechanism. Inhale: still air, hardwood, sun. The keys might lie in the toe of their cases, waiting. Solid keys, their wide faces cut in patterns like harsh baroque butterflies. Fit their ends, circular, into the clock's face, into the scars set round in metal. Turn, once a week, but don't wind too tight, don't overstress, don't burst the spring. Easy. You know your clock by the pull of its spring against you, by its soft constant sound in the back of your conscious head, by your hand set gentle and steady on its face.
In the house, quiet, the ticking of clocks surrounds you. Every tick set at an angle to that of the next clock. Six eight ten different rhythms. Subtle. You almost don't think about them. But they are always humming in the back of your head. There is always one in time with your pulse.
Here's a picture of a blonde Regulator very similar to ours: