Determined to not let the wind dictate my activities, I head out for a walk on a February day. The air pouring across the ridge is comparatively mild, by which I mean that I can hear something other than wind roaring in my ears: the rustle of snow and ice grains skittering over hardened snowdrifts.
I try to convince myself that the hissing sounds like a gentle shower of rain. The wind is responsible for the sound, though, and my brain rejects this stab at positive thinking, refusing to accept that it’s hearing anything pleasant.
I’m outside walking in the wind because I’m trying to adopt a more philosophical attitude about this particular aspect of my local environment. This is not an easy undertaking. Wind is weather that works its way into both my indoor and inner life. The house shudders in hard gusts. The moaning and hissing keeps me awake at night. Water swings in the toilet as if we’re on the high seas, which is a little unsettling at this altitude. My sinuses hurt. I get surly. The horses are skittish and crabby, perhaps because their sinuses, which are much bigger than mine, hurt too, or maybe because the incessant roaring of the wind makes it impossible for them to hear anything they would normally be monitoring with their ears.
My feelings on the subject of wind trend strongly toward the negative, but since it is a fact of life up here, my bad attitude seems counterproductive, if not unhealthy. I’ve considered trying to embrace the wind, learning to love it as an integral part of my environment. Genuine fondness would seem to demand finding a way to interact with the wind joyfully, however, and I can’t think of anything I’d do in it or with it that would elicit a sense of fun or admiration. Trees and barbed-wire fences make this unfriendly territory for kites. We’re landlocked in arid country, so wind-driven water sports are out.
I’m unlikely to learn to regard a windy day as my lucky one, so my compromise has been to work on staying open to the aesthetics of some of the wind’s handiwork (see Drift Season), along with this current project of cultivating equanimity by way of selective attention. I try to ignore the wind when it’s really ripping. I force myself to go outside for reasons beyond the necessary daily chores on some run-of-the-mill windy days, when the wind is merely pushy, not aggressive enough to make me stagger. My theory is that such voluntary ventures will rob the wind it of its capacity for making me feel trapped indoors.
My surroundings regularly suggest this kind of mental self-improvement project, but in this case my spirit has yet to be expanded by the effort. Mostly, I just feel windburned.
Back inside, clicking idly at the computer, I go looking for a word that captures the affective tenor of wind. Chinook, foehn, Sirocco, mistral, Sharqi…none quite conveys the vague agitation, the unease, the restiveness that comes from sharing days and nights and days with this unshakeable presence, familiar yet primordial, ordinary and ungraspable.