For Mt. Airy teacher and musician John Colgan-Davis, the seemingly ubiquitous wind chimes in his neighborhood make daily life much more pleasant (especially on a windy day).

by John Colgan-Davis

Spring is finally here, and it is regularly being announced as I go about my daily life. My walk down to the train in the morning is now taking place in the light of a new dawn each day, and it is just lovely.

Often the moon is still visible in the Northwest sky, and depending on what phase it is in, it can be an amazing backdrop to my walk. There are only a few people out, so it can be a wonderfully eerie time as well. Everything, even the streets that I have walked on for more than 20 years, seems just a little bit different on a glorious spring morn.

But recently something else has been added to the walk; something I did not quite expect. There has been a new addition to my walk in the form of sounds…

I would not have noticed this without the many windy days we have had of late, but West Mt. Airy must have more wind chimes per block than any other section of Philadelphia. Walking down to the train these past weeks, I have had the feeling that I have my own soundtrack or backing band. The sounds of the returning birds I expected; the cardinals, robins, mockingbirds and crows are sounds I have heard and treasured year after year.

But the wind chimes are a new experience, and it has been glorious. I first became aware of these sound makers about two weeks ago when I was bundled up in my heavy-duty, hooded winter coat, the one I only wear on super cold days.

It was extremely windy as well as cold, and as I walked down to the train, every few steps I noticed the sounds of the chimes. It was as if the wind were a musician arranging a song. Some of the sounds were the deep, solid thunks of Eastern bamboo chimes. Others were the rich, resonant sounds of heavy brass chimes that rang and then echoed. Still others were delicate, high pitched sounds of thin, metal strips or cylinders.

And I as a got closer to the train, I could hear several of them blending together with the howling of the wind. And by the time I reached the train, I was barely aware of how cold it was.

So that has been my surprise of the year so far: the awareness and magic of the wind chimes. I look forward to it now, and it is a wonderful accompaniment to my day.


I recently wrote in these pages about the return of the red- tailed hawks to their nest on the side of the Franklin Institute. At that time they had not started building the nest, so the Franklin’s Hawk Cam was not up and running. Well, I was informed by a reader of these missives that the hawks have started building the nest, and the Franklin has started the cam. During daylight hours you can view the hawks; the link to the web cam is: Enjoy!

John Colgan-Davis, a long-time resident of Mt. Airy, is also a teacher and harmonica player for the awesome blues band, Dukes of Destiny.