On Wind, and Trees, and a Friend Named Evelyn
The weather-guessers predicted heavy winds to begin at 4:00a.m., so on my first trip to the bathroom before dawn (there are usually at least three), I opened the front door to stillness and a couple of blurry stars beneath wispy veils of cloud cover. Maybe they meant 4:30a.m. But I’ll be asleep again by then. So I crawled back into bed, and the next time I opened my eyes, the sun was about two hands above the field line, and the trees had clearly been waving their branchy arms for a few hours now (they looked well into it with no signs of stopping). I put on my farm chore clothes and got to work.
I’ve always wanted to experience the moment when the winds pick up during the night. I’ve had the privilege many times to stand on our deck in daylight and face the gathering clouds to the west, watching as the limbs of the blue spruce and yellow maples along the ridge received the rolling unfolding of a good thunderstorm. It’s the most gorgeous of dances—long branches waving back and forth as thick trunks stand firmly planted in the ground. I look for the place where the trunk itself begins to sway, and it’s about one-third of the way up.
But at night, when such details are shrouded in darkness, I’ve only been shaken awake by the bang of our metal roof, never on the porch listening to the breeze become a howling crescendo of fully-engaged atmospheric rapturous symphony. In such a moment, I’d have to rely on my ears to capture and interpret the meaning of whistles and howls, my hair and skin to register the fierceness of a gust, while my eyes, sans glasses, squint through a muted ombre of grays that gives only hints of the shapes around me—the stand of young mulberry saplings just off the front deck, the bricks that form a circle around the hollowed out standing stump of the dead apple tree, the outline of our two trucks parked on the slanted driveway. All of it is familiar in my memory but indistinct at 4:00a.m. I’m grateful for the extra hours of sleep, of course, and look forward the next cold front that brings such a wild gift in its hands for my other senses to enjoy.
On a somewhat related topic, have you ever wrapped your arms around the trunk of a tree during strong winds? Rather a personal question, I know. But if you can, please try it today before the winds die down. It won’t necessarily make you a Tree Hugger (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but the sensation of swaying along with something whose roots are embedded way below one’s unattached feet is simply unforgettable. And a bit dizzying. I recommend selecting a tree big enough to catch the wind and distribute that movement throughout its lanky frame, but not so large that your fingertips can’t touch when you reach your arms around the rough bark. It also helps to press your torso and legs into the trunk of the tree, like the squirrels do when they’re resting mid-climb on their way to the nest at the top. And finally, close your eyes. I accept that I may have taken our relationship to a new and unexpected level. I appreciate your patience and open-mindedness (and, I want to hear how this goes for you. Please comment here at this post, or via the contact page on this blog).
Those same weather-guessers have announced a High Wind Warning, to “remain in effect until 10:00p.m. EST this evening” (guess where I’ll be at 10:01?), “with winds out of the west 25 - 35mph, and gusts up to 58mph.” I have no way to confirm the accuracy of that windspeed prediction, but if we have hatches to batten down, they have indeed been battened. The rabbit hutches are wrapped in blue tarps that are now flapping and snapping in the wind (do rabbits need earplugs? I wonder…), which is testing the strength of the bungee cords I bought at a local dollar store. I’ll check them again, long before 10:00p.m., and more than once. In the meantime, I’ve decided to work on a couple of inside projects: hauling some old bookshelves from the attic and setting them up the studio/downstairs guestroom where I’ll reorganize and store my art supplies. That should take me through lunch and just before dinner. And then I’ll make a few books.
A friend of mine, Evelyn, showed me the art and craft of bookbinding shortly after my father passed away. His death took the creative wind out of me for a couple of years. Let me just say how rare that was, to not put my hands to any sort of artistic pursuit for that long a time. Art quilts were my thing for over a decade, and I dabbled in painting and other projects that required the occasional use of a glue gun. But when dad died, so did the motivation and curiosity. Until Evelyn came out to the farm for lunch, and brought her tote bags full of book board, PVA glue, waxed thread, jute, and a handmade cradle for punching holes in the creases of the signatures that would become pages. In between bites of chicken salad and raspberries, and by the end of the weekend long after Evelyn left for home, I made twelve blank journals and never looked back. I think I heard dad cheering…
While the wind rearranges the landscape and the trees dance on the other side of the living room windows, it’s satisfying to be about my own windless rearranging inside, following a gentle muse wherever it leads me, and making note of the relationship between the Creations outside and the creative impulse that ripples and stirs within each of us. There are lessons only a windy day can teach us.
By 10:00 o’clock tonight, I wonder what will look different…on both sides of the living room windows.
Now, go hug that tree and let me know what you think.