Unseasonable wind

This is something I wrote three years ago but which seems very relevant today when we have very, very strong wind, unseasonable as the weather man described it!

The wind is my enemy, the wind is my friend

For a while the wind had been so strong that all I could do was force the door shut, drop the bars across and hope it held. It was a stout door, a round door to fit the entrance, but not quite round enough so the wind could make ingress through a hundred different minute cracks and chinks and tiny holes. I had tried to block them up with  a sort of putty made from dirt from the floor and slime from the walls… as soon as I blocked one, another seemed to be there… but maybe they provided ventilation.

There were many kinds of wind, the moaning wind which I felt would drive me mad if it didn’t stop, the buffeting wind which came in lumps as if thrown, the constant ‘sailing wind’ which I could ignore, the shrieking wind like a soul in torment, the balmy gentle wind, the whispering wind and the singing wind – not that I could ever quite catch their whispers and songs…

 I remembered reading of Antarctic expeditions centuries ago when the explorers (mad adventurers maybe) would be trapped in their tents for days on end as the… as the… words came back to me, as they sometimes do “It is at the steep edge of Antarctica that the strong katabatic winds form as cold air rushes over the land mass…” Katabatic wind…. katabatic wind… That’s the word, katabatic. I search my memory banks… ‘formed by cold air masses descending on the ice-cap...’

This wind I had shut the door on was not freezing cold which might have killed me, this wind was merely annoying.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind 
Thou art not so unkind 
As man’s ingratitude; 
Thy tooth is not so keen, 
Because thou art not seen, 
Although thy breath be rude…

This wasn’t a winter wind, there is no winter, no summer, no seasons here, but this wind was like a winter’s wind, very cold, but not deadly, very annoying… but not as annoying as the moaning wind or the shrieking wind…

Now outside, roaring at my door, it was the sailing wind, and even the sailing wind as I called it, had its own voice; it was consistent, strong, and a medium tone, not screaming or growling… It was tedious but if I shut my eyes at least I could pretend I was on a vessel going somewhere instead of being trapped up here.

I did shut my eyes, and passed a little while imagining a voyage, maybe with dolphins leaping round the bow, maybe with flying fish shimmering in the air beside me, albatrosses curving ahead.. The roaring forties…

It’s amazing what I can remember… The Roaring Forties are strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, generally between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees.

My imaginary boat slowed as the wind outside came round, dying a little so it was blowing obliquely to the door…

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by…

Christina Rossetti… what would she make of my situation, trapped here in my little hole, no trembling leaves, no bowing trees, the only voice the wind…

There was a moaning behind me… the damned chimney! Now it was catching the wind… Well, there was nothing I could do, just have to put up with it and be ready to damp the little fire if it got a blow back of smoke…

My little fire was perpetual… I gathered the cave mosses growing out of the cracks of the walls around me and dried them by the fire, then fed the embers of the previous mosses. Whatever they were they burned slow and I had a store – bound bales of dried moss, bound with the strange white roots of something which dangled into my little place. The walls were damp, so I kept my dried moss close to the heat.

In the semi dark, the only light was from the little fire, and the chinks I hadn’t filled or which had blown through. I couldn’t write, but I held my journal and imagined my words…. The words of Burt Franklin Jennes came into my mind…

Let me dip to the forties that whimper and whine,
As the winds from the Horn whip the seas into line.

The forties, those strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere…

The wind in the chimney had died away to an intermittent sobbing, and I felt some of the tension leach away. Should I open the door… maybe I would, just to feel a breeze on my skin…

I lifted the bar and the wind pushed the door open, not a rough, rude wind, just a wind. I could see nothing because of the clouds, and it was cold but while it was light I would keep it open. I had an arrangement to prop and wedge the round door ajar –  temperamental winds might whip round unexpectedly and I couldn’t have the hinge broken. The wind was my enemy, even when it pretended to be benign.

I took up my journal, and my pen made from one of the stiff mossy roots, and with my charcoal ink, I began to write my wind song.

I could sing winds…

crosswind, headwind, whirlwind, zephyr
tailwind, trade wind, knik wind, briza…

I could recite winds…

Haboob, Harmattan, Khamsin, Levant,
Bora, berg and Foehn
Chinook,Mistral, Scirocco and Leveche…

 The wind was my only friend, even when it was my enemy.

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