Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I woke up to the sound of the wind blowing wild

The above is the first line to the last song Kate Wolf ever wrote. She recorded it in her hospital room, when she was dying of leukemia 20 years ago. I never saw her, never knew her, but I miss her every day.

But last night, I did wake up to the sound of the wind blowing wild. It was scary at first. Normally we don't get 50 m.p.h. gusts of wind around here, and when we do we are already under a tornado warning. At first I thought it was the rushing sound of a chimney fire; I've never actually heard it, and I would prefer not to, but it's a possibility. Then I looked out in the fading moonlight, and saw the top branches of the white pines swaying like prairie grasses in the wind. I heard things hitting the roof; in the morning light I saw it was white pine cones, falling like hail in the windstorm. Th Hermit went outside and was overwhelmed by the smell of pine resin; a large bough had blown off one of our white pines, though fortunately not one of our "big sisters".

I worry sometimes about the "big sisters". There are three or four of them, about a hundred feet tall and that many years old, that are within felling distance of the cabin. That is, if a gust of wind would shear one of them off near the ground, and the wind were to be blowing in the right direction, a trunk of enormous weight would come crashing down upon the cabin. Fortunately, the likelihood of a shearing wind coming from the southwest is very slight, especially since the force of such a wind would be dampened by a few hundred yards of dense woods. But tell that to an insomniac at two in the morning. At that time, anything is possible.

The wind continued to blow wild all day. I don't handle wind well; it makes me restless and uneasy, perhaps as it is designed to do. It makes me want to stay inside in the refuge of a warm wood fire.

I got a good look at a snow bunting this morning on my way out the driveway. These birds are pure November, blown in by the wind and looking for all the world like wind-blown snow flurries, restless and white and scurrying, in the wild wind.


lené said...

We've had some of those wild winds around here too, and they are unsettling. Sounds like they are more common to us than you all. When we had the 50-60mph winds a couple of days back, the plastic on my windows rippled uncontrollably. Just the sharp crackling of that would unnerve a calm person. :)

Rexroth's Daughter said...

When I lived in Boulder, Colorado, going to school at CU, I encountered the chinooks. These winds blow out of the Rockies at jaw-dropping speeds. We woke one night to what sounded like a train plowing through our bedroom. It was a 140 mph wind that toppled trees, signs, and broke windows throughout Boulder. I had never been made restless by a wind until then. Your description of the wind there reminded me of that night.

I've never seen a snow bunting, but I do love Kate Wolf's music so much.

roger said...

in many places people have come to notice that wind from an unusual direction causes restlessness and unease. they even have words for these winds.

"The foehn Effect is a phenomena found in meteorology, and is when dry wind coming down a mountain warms up as it descends. Named after the Foehn winds of the European alps, especially southern Germany, this is often wrongly refered to as the fohn effect, even by some weather sites that should know better.

There appears to be some link between the ionisation found with this effect and Deep Vein Thrombosis, but this is still in need of further research.

There are several other examples of wind systems showing this phenomena which include

The Zonda wind of Argentina, as found in Aconcagua Provincial park
The Puelche, also in the Andes
The Halny Wiatr in Poland
The Koembang in Java
The Santa Ana in California
The Chinook in the Rocky mountains
The Sirocco in North Africa, Greece and Spain
The Harmattan in West Africa
The Bora in former Yugoslavia
The Simoom in Arabia
The Kamsin in Syria
The Samiel in turkey


Floridacracker said...

Funny, I remember glancing at the Weather Channel as I walked past the TV and noticing that your entire area was coded red. I said to myself, "Deb's in for some bad weather."
Glad it turned out okay.

Trix said...

So true about the wind; somehow so unpredictably fiercer than weather you can see, like rain or snow. The snow buntings are so delicate, like they were dreamed up by a child.
Love your blog, so glad to have come across it, thanks to Pamela at Thomasburg Walks.

Deb said...

dread pirate roberts- thanks for the fascinating info! I believe this wind was from the west/northwest, not an uncommon direction around here but certainly uncommon in intensity. Now I know I'm certainly not alone in feeling unsettled.

Hello Trix, glad 10,000 Birds led you here!