The South-west Wind

Last night, our typically Ligurian shutters started banging about, heralding the arrival of a change in weather.  September and now October have been amazingly warm and beautiful, with hardly a drop of rain, but we knew it couldn’t last.  The wind was bringing Autumn in.

Or so I thought.  For when I got out of bed this morning and opened up the windows, expecting chilliness to greet me and maybe even some rain on the ground, I was instead hit in the face by a gust of warm air.  The wind was still puffing about, though with less enthusiasm than during the night, but it was a south-west wind, the Libeccio, coming in off the Mediterranean after having gotten its start presumably somewhere over Africa.  Autumn will have to wait.

Here in our house in the hills, the wind is a different phenomenon from that of the city, where the wind is somehow disembodied from its natural sources.  We hear it coming, hear (and feel) it arrive, and hear it go, leaving the calm that was there before it came.  Wind becomes rhythmic, almost musical.

It made me think about the winds I have been lucky enough to experience in my life.  The Harmattan in Burkina Faso, hot and dusty and bad for plants.  A Saharan wind that kicked up dust clouds a mile high in Mauritania.  Siberian winds which froze the inside of your nostrils in the long dark winter in Kazakhstan.  Hurricane Gloria in Connecticut in 1985, an event as romantic to a 12-year-old as I’m sure it was nerve-wracking for his parents.

But to contradict myself and my examples, the wind is generally placid, breezy, pleasant, beneficial,  and more than anything a harbinger of the changing weather or seasons.  And yet you hear more than anything about the negative effects of wind.  Our seeming bottomless fascination with storms and disastrous weather places high winds at the top of our morbid curiosity.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, monsoons, cyclones, wind shears, gale-force, 100-mile-per-hour relentless winds.  Winds that whistle across the plains and down through valleys and that, when blowing continuously, cause nervousness and the jitters.

But there’s something else, something that last night’s balmy wind blew in.  The wind brings the waves …


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