If I’m being honest, and I usually am (for better or worse, I have a hard time not saying exactly what I think and know to be true), I dislike the wind. One of my least favorite weather conditions, besides hail, and also rain/snow mix. Strong winds tend to have some degree of fear to them for me: either the mild foreboding that comes along with the sound of wind whooshing through tall pines; or the gentle midnight spook of wind whipping around the corner of the house at night, making branches scratch ominously; or the real fear of being hit by something falling because of the wind.
That last one is a new one for me. I had always sort of thought that wind was annoying but generally benign, something that was a little spooky but not truly scary. Also I can’t separate how I feel as a long-haired person constantly being whipped in the face by my own strands from just general feelings about the wind, so I figured there was some kind of unfair personal bias in there too. I’d seen some big gusty weather: out chukar hunting, leaning over into the canyon; I’ve lived through one vicious storm on the outskirts of a hurricane; I’ve heard my dad tell stories about being in the forest at night when the wind was knocking down trees around him and assumed it was mythologizing one blowy night. I thought I pretty much knew what I was talking about, and except for tornadoes, the wind wasn’t a weather condition I liked but also wasn’t afraid of. But then I learned the wind is actually terrifying.
Let’s go for a walk, my aunt and uncle said, near the end of the Civil War game. It was the day after Thanksgiving and we were all waddling lethargically around the living room of the Sunriver house, absentmindedly eating and putting puzzles together while the big game went on in the other room. We needed a walk. It looked a little windy from inside the house, but how bad could it be really?
Well, as it turns out, pretty bad. Not long into the walk, Sam saw a tree literally snap in half up ahead of us on the trail. The wind was absolutely howling, a really ferocious howl that bit into our skin and ate up our words as soon as we said them. People passed us at hurried jogs, eager to get out of the gales. We did a perfunctory ten-minute walk to shake the afternoon’s malaise and then headed for home before we were smacked by a falling limb, conked by a 30 mph pinecone or crushed by another falling tree. It was rough.
And so I concluded that the wind is really not for me, doubly sure now, and with hard proof to back it up. It’s a privilege to live in a relatively wind-less state, free of hurricanes and tornadoes, plagued by only the rare truly bad storm. What a gift! I love it here even more, and will refrain—believe you me—from much wind walking in the future. Only when I feel like a real adrenaline rush will I venture out into the wind, but I doubt that will be any time soon.