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Loving the Wind

January 15th, 2013 at 10:21 am

Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:

 

 

LOVING THE WIND

“How can you call yourself a Kansan if you don’t love the wind?” Dan Markowitz accused me when I ran into him at the Java Cat.

“Um,” I stammered. “Too much of a good thing?”

In a recent column, I wrote about tumbleweeds and western Kansas. While I didn’t really slam the wind, neither did I fully rejoice in its existence.

“The wind, Cheryl. What’s not to love?” he asked.

My friend Dan works at Poehler Antiques. He’s a smart, likeable guy. And he’s energetic – his main form of transportation is his bicycle, which he rides year-round.

Now, I don’t hate-hate the wind. In fact, I have occasionally appreciated the redemptive power of a mighty gust, one so strong that it can blow away sins. But when I don’t feel a particular need for deliverance, I’d prefer to opt out of any kind of breeze over, say, 15 mph.

The wind is such a part of our lives that it might be considered a state mascot. And yes, absolutely, the wind has benefits. For example, wheat needs to be dry before it is cut. So wheat-on-the-stalk is turned over to the Kansas wind for an afternoon of moisture removal.

Another good thing about the wind is that is annoys mosquitoes enough to keep them off of our skin. Ah, something to annoy the annoyer. Wind wins again.

Many Kansans do actually like the wind. Dan calls these people, including himself, “windophiles.” And, if he rides his bike in the January wind without complaint, his love for gusty Kansas air must be true. So I emailed him later, asking him to tell me what he thinks is so great about moving air.

He wrote what he called a “long-winded” response in praise of air currents. Growing up in Olpe in a house with no air conditioning, Dan recalled how the summer breeze cooled the bedroom he shared with his brother. He spoke of happy kite-flying days.

Dan wrote, “And I loved lying on my back and watching white puffy clouds roll across a bright sky, shielding me from the sun’s heat and creating shadows on the ground as they passed by. How do you think those amazing shape-changing clouds passed overhead? It was the wind, my friend, the wind!”

“By the time I was a teenager, my love for the wind was deeply ingrained,” he wrote. “Nothing felt better for a sweaty, dirty farm worker than a gust of fresh air on his face while baling hay in a low-lying meadow.”

Dan told about one recess at St. Joseph’s School in Olpe. “A great gust of March wind caught Sister Emma just right and ripped her veil, a long, dark, heavy contraption, right off of her head. The veil sailed across the playground, leaving Sister Emma standing there, bare down to her wimple. I stifled a laugh (it was never a good idea to laugh at anything that happened in front of a nun) and set out across the playground to retrieve the tumbling veil.

“I proudly walked the veil back to Sister Emma, who expressed her appreciation for my humble service with a chocolate chip cookie from the nuns’ special larder.”

Even this fan of the wind acknowledged its negative aspects. Dan wrote, “You asked how I like it if I’m biking into a stiff northerly breeze on a chilly January morning. The answer is, not much. You have a point. Nor do I like it in the summer when I’m riding south on Highway 99 directly into a strong hot breeze. On those days, it’s particularly bad just beyond Evergreen Cemetery, where the highway starts up the hill that forms the southern edge of the Cottonwood River Valley. For some reason, the wind whooshes over that hill and blasts everything in its way like a furnace. Literally, it’s taken my breath away there, leaving me unable to even curse as I huff and puff my way up to the crest of the hill, where it’s hardly better.”

Nevertheless, Dan says, “I think it’s unfair to judge the wind by its occasional bad conduct.”

I’m giving some serious thought to Dan’s perspective. Wind offers benefits – such as a continual supply of fresh air. And disliking the wind only increases our annoyance. So maybe it is time to appreciate and celebrate air velocity. Wind festival, anyone?

Copyright 2013 ~ Cheryl Unruh

columns, Flyover Weather, Kansans, nature

  1. Mark Sherman
    January 15th, 2013 at 14:56 | #1

    I read this aloud and was hearing it in Tom Avaril’s voice, not that it wouldn’t be great read aloud in Cheryl’s voice. It just has an Avarilesque rhythm to it. Thanks again for some Kansas in words.

  2. Cheryl
    January 15th, 2013 at 14:59 | #2

    That’s hilarious, Mark. I can hear it, too. “Folks….”

  3. Flips
    January 15th, 2013 at 15:22 | #3

    Great column Cheryl—— BUT WE STILL DON’T MISS THE KANSAS WIND ONE TINY LITTLE BIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) WHEN WE VISIT FAMILY & FRIENDS IN KANSAS– WE ARE WORN OUT BY THE CONSTANT DAMNED BLOWING WIND!!!!!!! All the years we lived in Kansas we cussed that damned wind!!!!! I would retrieve my porch & patio furniture out of the North 40!!! You could never have a picnic with out hanging on to your food & table so it didn’t blow away!!!!!! We still say very very often– how we sure don’t miss the Kansas Wind!! (and no trees) :) hee hee

  4. January 15th, 2013 at 22:16 | #4

    I’m in. Let’s have a wind festival.

  5. J.P.
    January 16th, 2013 at 11:38 | #5

    Living at the coast there allways is wind, actually I do love wind as much as I do love clouds.
    Wind is life!

  6. Wendy Devilbiss
    January 16th, 2013 at 22:24 | #6

    I liked the bicycle angle–having someone relate to tacking in the Kansas wind from a pedal-pusher perspective! This one captures a great blend–intimacy with friends and nature and words. Thanks!

  7. heineken160
    January 16th, 2013 at 23:29 | #7

    An economic angle: “The wind is such a part of our lives that it might be considered a state mascot. And yes, absolutely, the wind has benefits. For example, wheat needs to be dry before it is cut. So wheat-on-the-stalk is turned over to the Kansas wind for an afternoon of moisture removal.”

    You won’t believe me but I walked into an office at ESU today around 5 p.m. to find two perfectly grown adults hopping in a rippling, swooshy way. I asked what was going on and was told they were doing the “trash-bag-in-the-wind dance.” The wind must be their muse. I snapped a photo. I’ll tag you on FB.

    This sounds like it is a column for your new book, Cheryl.

  8. January 17th, 2013 at 08:37 | #8

    Thank you Mark, Flips, Tracy, J.P., Wendy, and Roger! :-)

  9. Janet Fish
    January 17th, 2013 at 14:29 | #9

    I love Kansas wind. It is different from the wind in Southern California. We had two predominate kinds when I was growing up. I think it’s changed now along with climate change. But when I was growing up the two predominate winds, in my mind anyway, was the afternoon wind that set in about 2 pm and it came from the ocean. I loved it away from the beach. But on the beach it was uncomfortable to sit too long in that wind sometimes.

    The other was the Santa Ana winds. Those bore no good for some reason. I actually liked them, because I like wind. But a lot of other people really didn’t like the Santa Anas. They were hot, dry winds, coming from the East.

    Here I just love the wind. I don’t like it when it’s taking off roofs, but I love it when it’s not doing property damage.

    I love a good, scary storm, as long as all it’s doing is trying to fake us out.

    The wind here is something I’d miss if we ever leave the area. I imagine we are here for the duration, and I will enjoy the wind however long we are here.

    I love moving air in the house. One thing I learned in Hospice training is that moving cool air is the easiest air to breathe.

    Janet