Ill Winds: A Necessary Evil
I’ve made my peace with the cold. By this time of year, I’ve remembered all the tactics for staying unfrozen when it’s single digits outside–tricks with scarves and woolen things, mostly.
But I’ve never done very well accepting January wind. Being the most animated aspect of weather, wind seems alive and its intentions ignoble. At the same time, I realize the planet would not survive without the mixing effects of wind to stir the too hot into the too cold so that at least some places for a short while are Goldilocks “just right.”
I was once winter-blown so relentlessly for so long that I wrote about my foul-weather relationship with the wind. It is recorded in Slow Road Home, and I remembered it last night when he barn roof ruffled like thunder.Â
Wind in winter
Last night the wind screamed overhead like a great circling bird, back and forth from ridge to ridge. Every now and then it would swoop down to clutch at our porch roof and ruffle the metal, making a strange rumbling studio-thunder sound effect. Then it would lift again and circle a thousand feet above us, coursing the high places round and round, sounding like a great locomotive caught in a switching yard right over Goose Creek.Â
Summer winds throw angry tantrums like this just briefly, and only when performing the accompaniment to a summer thunder storm. A million green living leaves modulate the pitch and timbre of the wind, so that even in the summer gale there is a softness, a lifting and cleansing quality that is altogether missing from wind in winter. Summer wind appears at the height of the storm, strutting and fretting about briefly; and then it exits stage left and its pitch falls off, Doppler-like, and only a cooling breeze is left behind. I have no complaints to register against summer winds.Â
But winter wind arrives here irritable and there is no cheering it up. Dense and gray, heavier than air, it sinks into our valley like a glacier of broken glass, pushing down against hard and frozen earth, and it will not relent. When the wind howls at midnight, I dream of the Old Man Winter of children’s books, his cheeks bloated full, lips pursed and brow furrowed, exhaling a malevolent blast below at frail pink children in wet mittens.Â
If you listen, you may think you hear a tone to the roar of January wind, a discrete pitch of a note that you could find on a piano keyboard. But this isn’t so. In the same way all rainbow colors blend to make white light, January wind is the sound of all tones that nature can create,at once together as the Old Man overhead blows through a mouthpiece formed of ridge and ravine, across reeds of oak and poplar trunks.Â
Winter wind is the white noise of January that won’t go away.
CAPTION: Mare’s tail cirrus, like pulled cotton, blown and stretched by the west wind. Painted with ProCreate for iPad from one of my photographs.