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The sound of closing doors chimes the passage of time in an old house, it marks the weather of our day. When the library door slams shut it means the westerlies have risen, they are the winds that blew the sugar trade, and Europe and Africa to the Americas. When the cupboard doors blow open it means the weather has changed, the winds clocking to the south and blowing up off the Caribbean Sea, bringing hot air and thunder.

The sound I remember the most was my mother’s leaving her bedroom, her door pulling to, the click of the old brass latch and the sounds of her heels on the steps as she descended the stairwell to the second door that opened into the sitting room where we welcome our guests.

For over three hundred years this house has been a gathering place, and when the house is quiet, I sit in the great room and imagine the conversations that have been held through the centuries. I imagine the walls can talk and if I am still enough I can hear them.

December marks the return of the Christmas winds and the holiday buzz; and the New Year comes with new faces and old friends. Growing up in a hotel, mother always told us that the world comes to our doors. It’s only the wind that ever knocks, guests come and go like friends. So I am always listening, interpreting the sounds of the winds and guests arriving.

And always at this time of year, I imagine I hear my mother’s footsteps coming down from her room to wish us all Happy New Year.

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