Wind’s in the east, mist comin’ in, like somethin’ is brewin’ and ’bout to begin. Can’t put my finger on what lies in store...-“Chim Chiminy” from “Mary Poppins”
Nature has always spoken to me in color, its hues reflecting my emotions back to me better than any mirror. Different aspects of it can transport me back to a specific time and place, when something profound occurred in my life. This week, it’s speaking to me in the wind.
I’m feeling increasingly anxious and overwhelmed these days, as I’m sure much of humanity has been. My hesitancy to return to crowds and public spaces leaves me a mixture of frustration and determination to wait out what feels like a gale force wind of a virus.
That’s when I turn to nature as my remedy. I’ve been most grateful for the ability to surround myself in the local flora during this time, and through near-daily meanderings in our trails, evening rides with my family, or impromptu picnics by local ponds, I’m unraveling the ball of emotional yarn I’ve been habitually twisting up.
My first foray into wind-study occurred at an early age, and it changed me. I was an imaginative child, living in rural Illinois, about 30 minutes from the downtown Chicago. There was a reason, after all, that it was labeled “The Windy City.” I walked to the schoolyard one block from my house, carrying a key element with me that would be my experiment with wind: my Dad’s enormous golf umbrella. It was not uncommon in our town to feel an unexpected urgency in the wind, as if a mother’s pair of hands was ushering you out the door, insisting that you were going to be late for something. I found a thrill in the belief that I could travel like Mary Poppins, parrot-handled umbrella floating aloft in the clouds, heels together in L-shape formation. After many attempts at such a mode of travel, the wind would gust enough to lift me off the ground, and carry me a short distance.
I remember hastily laying the umbrella down, then immediately shoving my hands skyward, and with a series of swirling motions similar to the pattern a KitchenAid mixer makes when stirring cookie dough, I channeled my inner Aeolus (god of the wind), and orchestrated an invisible tornado as the swirls and eddies of wind made the fall leaves dance like the ballerinas in the “Nutcracker.” I was convinced I could control the wind. Maybe I was the first Air Bender?? Since then, this particular force of nature changed my outlook on things.
“Standing quite alone, far in the forest, while the wind is shaking the trees…we find our reflections of a richer variety than the life of cities.”—Henry David Thoreau, “A Winter Walk”
I felt the same way in high school, sitting on the hillside of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the early morning quiet time allotted to us at our YMCA summer camp, as the soft music of Yanni filtered through the air. The wind whispered relief to me, as I struggled to process the turmoil I was experiencing at home.
I felt it again in 2010, at the top of the Alps in Switzerland, as my husband and the group of my students huddled with me, wind whipping flurries of snow around our uncovered heads. There was a thrill in that blizzard, and I felt so alive. It happened again on a gondola in the canals of Venice, as the wind whipping between the floating city’s waterways was threatening to overturn our boat. Our gondolier, Marcelo, used his paddling pole to steady us as we burst into fits of laughter.
Years later, a similar sensation greets me when we head to the beach in Galveston, and I sit under the shade of Murdoch’s Pier, wind whipping my untethered hair around my sunglasses, as my daughter and husband play in the sand. Now, we add the squirmy cherub baby to it, and there is perfect peace in this moment.
It was different out there this week, in the wind, and I felt change coming. It left me in a state of anticipation, and I couldn’t help but wonder the same sentiments as Bert in “Mary Poppins.” What’s brewing and about to begin?
Yesterday, I shared the wind’s mischief with my daughter and a friend who has been just as anxious as me lately, the cares of the world heavy. I knew nature would heal us three, so we agreed to a post-work/school picnic at our new favorite spot, and we also painted, colored, and created in the afternoon sun. The wind spontaneously teased us, occasionally fluttering the pages, and at one point, causing us to chase the leftovers of lunch across the grass. We laughed so hard and our burdens felt lighter. As we packed up to return homeward, one large burst of wind caught us all up and I knew it was Mother Nature (or God, depending on your p.o.v.) reminding me that there is possibility in the air. I noticed, again, before I went to bed, the leaves dancing in the sunset breeze, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Here’s what I pray for us all—that the winds of change bring us peace. That we look across the landscape after this turbulence and realize that, just like the Grand Canyon, that has been carved by water and wind, there is beauty in such movement.
There is change in the wind. Let it be for good.
~Kindred Spirit 5.7.2020~