Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

When winds blow, husbands take heed

April 16, 2008

Out where I live, we're close enough to the prairie that, when the wind blows, things that aren't securely fastened are likely to be smashed to the ground or carried off into the neighbor's yard or heaven knows where.

We had to get rid of the wind chimes. Wind chimes are nice enough when gentle breezes sort of tickle them intermittently. In a constant wind, like the one that sweeps in off the prairie out here, they don't chime as much as rattle, so they languish, unused, under the deck. Placed down on the ground where the wind can't get to them.

Who needs wind chimes anyway? Out here the wind makes a noise all its own, though it can't very well be described as anything very comforting, unless maybe you find something soothing in the wailing of lost souls.

We have one of those hanging bird feeders, but it doesn't hang so much as sway, careening in the wind. The fact that it gets used at all is a testament to the birds' hunger.

A couple of years ago, we got a covered porch swing and set it up. It was restful, relaxing to sit in the shade and swing on summer afternoons. Then the wind came up again, and turned the whole apparatus upside down. Only the fact of a neighbor's fence on the downwind side of our property line saved it from being carried away. I hauled it back, set it upright. This time, I chained it to the deck.

Where one might get by watering plants a couple of times a week, ours get the moisture sucked out of them by the constant wind. We water every day.

Out here the wind can get to you. The wind's like that.

The Kansa, after all, the people for whom our state is named, were the "people of the south wind."

When Kansas was settled in the 1800s the constant wind was said to have driven more than one unfortunate wife to distraction, or beyond.

One of the stories that is told in a tour of the grand old Queen Anne mansion at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City is that of the young wife who spent her days in the spring house in an attempt to get away from the wind.

Alan J. Lerner described the wind from the nether regions in "They Call the Wind Maria," a song written for the musical, "Paint Your Wagon":

Away out here they got a name

For rain and wind and fire.

The rain is Tess, the fire Joe,

And they call the wind Maria.

Maria blows the stars around

And sends the clouds a'flyin.'

Maria makes the mountains sound

Like folks were up there dying.

This example may work better if you haven't seen the movie. If you have, you probably remember Clint Eastwood singing "I Talk to the Trees," but that's another story.

But I think the best passage about the effects of the wind may be this one from "Red Wind," by Raymond Chandler. He was describing the Santa Ana Winds that blow out of the mountain passes into southern California: "Those hot dry winds that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen."

I don't know any meek little wives, but when the wind blows the way it did last week, my advice to husbands is to protect your neck.

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