Listening to the Wind

Derecho Woodpile

I work a lot on winter days. Some readers may want to put air quotes around that word. What I mean is cleaning the house, washing dishes, preparing meals, doing laundry, and snow removal. I began to plant seeds in trays to grow seedlings for the garden. In winter, any type of physical activity is welcome and most of it must be done to maintain a household. As a septuagenarian in reasonably good health, I need breaks from time-to-time to sustain activity throughout the whole day. When I do rest, it is in the form of a nap or to sit quietly for a few minutes in my living room chair.

While resting, I listen to the wind.

Since we moved here there have been three major wind events. The first two were what we called “straight line” winds that damaged the house and some of the trees. The last major event was the 2020 derecho. Before these events, I paid little attention to the wind. Now it is more engaging than television, radio, or looking at the screen on my handheld mobile device. It creates a form of solitary alertness well cognizant of the consequences of strong wind.

Listening to the wind doesn’t seem like much. At a certain age it evokes memories that transform the present into something else: a sense of fear, experience, or knowledge about the hazards of living in a turbulent world. Listening to the wind is more than about resting.

When I’m at my writing table I can’t hear the wind or anything else that goes on outdoors. Well, I can hear the predawn fusillade of shotguns during hunting season. It is a quiet environment by design. If I have the space heater on, I can only hear the fan. It is the type of environment suited to concentrating on memory and the imagination. It is the setting for reading and writing.

I’ve been reading Grandmother’s letters from when I was in the military. When she wrote them, she was not much older than I am today. She had at least four heart attacks while I was gone, and fell on the street twice. She was often tired, she wrote, especially during her recovery from hospitalization or the falls. She would stop working and lay on the bed or sit in her living room. Sometimes all she got done was to prepare meals and make her bed. It’s was not unlike how I am today.

The sound of the wind takes me back to the past. While wind may be a present danger, I worry less about it because of my experiences. I know for what to listen in the wind. I become thankful for my health and presence of mind. The wind inspires me to get back to work and improve how I live.

Some days we just need to shut off the noise, take a rest, and listen to the wind.