Wind. A word that can summon up a lot of emotion. It can feel good, make wind chimes ring out a beautiful melody, give clothes hanging outside a fluffy feel and fresh smell, air out a house, ruin a perfectly good hair-do, and power a sail boat. But, it can also wreak havoc and cause utter devastation. Almost a year after a series of massive tornadoes ripped across the south and mid-west – including my “other” home town, Sanford, NC – we are seeing them, yet again, ravaging a path of destruction across many of the same areas of the country. So, today I want to write about “WIND”.
I love a strong breeze – something very typical of the area I grew up in. Living so close to Lake Ontario, we seemed to always have a nice breeze and quite often a rather stiff one. I loved to go out in the middle of the yard, stretch my arms out, tilt my head back and just feel the breeze swirl around my body, kiss my cheeks, and run its fingers through my hair. I loved riding my motorcycle and feeling the wind on my face and the way it whipped the hair that hung out under my helmet and any loose clothing I may have been wearing. My grandparents had a cottage at the lake and I adored the calming sensation I got from sitting at the cliff top feeling the wind and listening to the waves blow up onto the shore. My Grandma and Mom used to say “go outside to play and let the wind blow the stink off you!” Yes, I loved the calming force of a good strong breeze. I missed that constant feel of the breeze when I lived in Sanford. There were times when there’d be a breeze strong enough to go out in the yard and feel the wind brush through my hair, but it was rare. I often found myself sitting in the still air wishing for a breeze and thinking about how much I missed the wind off of Lake Ontario. That is why I love my Mustang so much. Yes, it is a beautiful car, but the main joy is getting out with the top down and creating my own wind in my hair!
Yes, in Sanford the air was mostly still, but when it did get windy, it was VERY windy! Typically, a strong wind meant the tail end of a tropical storm or hurricane or even a random tornado – all of which can be very scary and unsettling – not the calming winds I was used to enjoying. I’ve had some up close and personal brushes with severe winds. When Hurricane Fran and Floyd came far enough inland to impact Sanford, I was living in a mobile home. Fran came through in 1996 – I sent Puddles to stay with her Daddy and I went to stay with a friend and her family. I barely closed my eyes all night as I tried to sleep in their guest room listening to the wind howl like a monster and the cracks and crashes of limbs and trees coming down. When we got up, there was a tree that had fallen in their yard and just missed my car and the window of the room I was staying in. There was a lot of debris and streets blocked by downed trees on the way from their house to mine. As I drove up my road, I slowed down and held my breath until I saw my home was still there and untouched by the storm. When Floyd came in 1999, I was not going to hang around and listen to it roar through again. I packed up my car with photos and valuables, including my precious dog, Puddles, and headed out-of-town. I drove to Fairmont, WVa – the (close to) half way point between Sanford and Albion and spent the night at the Red Roof Inn that I stayed at when I would drive home. I figured that it was far enough out of the storm’s path to be safe and I could decide my plans in the morning – if I called and found I had a home to go to, I’d drive back – if I called and found I didn’t have a home to go to, I was already half way to Mom’s, so I’d go there! Luckily, the news was that all was fine and I had a gorgeous, leisurely drive back home. There were other strong storms that I waited out in my mobile home – terrified! Once I bought my house, I was less terrified of storms……..that is, until April 16, 2011! Tornadoes had a tendency to bounce around Sanford, but this one boldly carved out a wide path of destruction from one corner of the county to the other – leaving behind devastation and heartbreak. I was one of the lucky ones – there wasn’t even a limb down in my yard. But, that is far from the story of many in our beautiful city that awful day.
Since I’ve moved back to Albion, it has been mostly too cold to enjoy the strong lake breezes I remember so fondly. But, also, there have been many days where the winds were so much stronger than I remember them being. Maybe it is just because it is winter, but there have been several occurrences where the winds remind me of the more scary winds that Sanford’s proximity to the outer bands of hurricanes and tropical storms brought. It has been very unsettling sitting in my new home listening to the winds howl and the house creak. Last night and today, for instance – the wind is blowing up to 45 mph with gusts up to 65 mph! When the gusts come (which are so frequent, you could almost call them sustained), it creates a loud whistle around my sliding patio doors, roars past the windows, shakes and creaks the walls of the house, and lifts the hedges along the front of the house in ripples like a crowd doing the wave at a baseball game. Leaves, limbs, and debris are blowing rapidly across the yards and street. My front porch had green outdoor carpet glued down on the cement floor in two sections. A previous storm ripped up one of the sections and threw it out into the yard. The remaining section is holding on by just a small bit of glue on one end, so every time we get a wind storm (today included), it flops up and bangs against the house making a hell of a racket – I really need to get out there and loosen the last part and get it off of there!
On days like today, I sit in the house listening to the wind howl and it reminds me of that day – April 16, 2011 – when I was shut up in a small guest bathroom with three dogs and my iPhone waiting out the tornado in fear that at any moment my house would disappear around me. I remember the terror………………and the tears of joy when it passed and I went outside and found no damage……………and the heartbreak when I saw the damage that so many suffered!
The sound of the wind brings a much different feeling for me, now – after Fran and Floyd and April 16, 2011 and other brushes with monster storms. I still look forward to the constant gentle breezes that I remember from my prior years here in Albion, but I wish the strong winds would stay away. Bring on the gentle summer breezes and blue skies…………I long for those days and will truly enjoy them!!!