Ted Striker: Mayday! Mayday!
Steve McCroskey: What the hell is that?
Johnny: Why, that’s the Russian New Year. We can have a parade and serve hot hors d’oeuvres…
April ended with heavy rains and chilly air. May Day passed under gray skies, with equally chilly air. Yet the grass is long, buds are everywhere, and birds are noisy in their pursuit of making baby birds.
Sometime in the spring of 1986 (probably), I bought a noah bell at a Wicca gift shop in Austin. Strictly speaking, I don’t think Wicca had anything to do with the store, which was stocked with crystals and incense and other esoteric-flavored knickknacks, but that’s how I referred to it later. Maybe that’s gross insensitivity to Wicca, but even my enlightened Austin friends got a chuckle out of the description. Things were different in the ’80s, I guess.
In our time, naturally, one doesn’t even have to go out to find Wicca supplies.
Thirty years later, this is my noah bell.
This is what it sounds like, struck with a stainless steel spoon: Noah bell rung three times.
Interestingly enough, it sounds about the same when struck with a plastic pen. Note that there’s no clapper. There used to be one, which was made of wood, but it disappeared sometime over the last three decades. It wasn’t made of copper, so I know it wasn’t stolen.
My bell is about 4¾ inches (12.5 cm) tall, not counting the ring on top, and 3 to 3½ inches (up to 9 cm) in diameter, since it’s more oval than circular. A smaller noah bell with a clapper sounds like this.
I still have the large tag that came with my noah bell, because of course I do.
So it’s not just a noah bell, but a Maharani brand noah bell. A maharani is the wife of a maharajah, so I suppose that’s like naming your brand Queen or Empress.
OLD INDIAN BELIEF needs to be all caps? That’s told of other bells as well, and I have to wonder what kind of lily-livered devil or evil spirit would be scared off by the sound of a bell. Don’t they cover that in evil spirit training? Then again, I ring it around here sometimes, and we’re not bothered by evil spirits that I know of.
The company that imports these bells from India is called Maharani Imports. According to its web site, “Maharani Imports specializes in whimsically themed wind chimes and mobiles made with recycled iron, handmade fused glass beads, and Noah Bells all assembled together in Mumbai. We also have many costume and semi-precious necklaces, earrings, and bracelets…
“We are based outside of Dallas in a small rural town called Bartonville. The company has been in that location since 1980 and we are located on a 30 acre ranch property with many rescued animals. Namely we have about 6 donkeys and 9 llamas, which we welcome you to come visit by appointment if you are nearby!”
Bartonville’s just south of Denton, and I’m not so sure that it’s particularly rural any more. But I can see how the good folks at Maharani Imports might have discovered Austin early as a solid market for their products. My own noah bell now spends most of its time on the nightstand near my bed, along with a lamp, a stack of books, a small statue of Lincoln, and some other bibelots.