Friday, May 13, 2011

A Work Week's Worth of Winds

or In Which We Wallow in Weather

Today.  Such a light breeze, one of the rare, perfect kinds—not too hot or cold or strong, and faintly scented of honeysuckle.  A wind to rest—no, to revel in.

Thursday.  Comparative calm. A cool breeze from the northwest at 15 mph, the sky a vast arc of unbroken blue. Even for New Mexico, the sun is radiant. As I sit on the patio writing, a hummingbird lights in one of the desert olive trees.  Today, we are all catching our breaths.

Wednesday. Fitful winds from the west, north, northwest; a fretful sky. The radio blathers excitedly about snow in the East Mountains, but here in town we only get a tight-fisted sprinkling of raindrops, like pennies flung resentfully at a beggar. Late in the afternoon the clouds begin to break apart, and the wisps at their edges go tumbling end over end. From their midst, suddenly, the moon takes shape.

Tuesday. Strong winds, holding steady at 25 mph, with gusts up to 50. They blow from the south, the garden's least protected side. By late afternoon even the sand cherries look beaten down. The desert olives bend from their waists, their upper branches sweeping in circles and figure eights.

The sky isn't any calmer. The cumulus clouds have shredded around their edges, the winds dragging them out of shape. I keep blinking, trying to bring them into focus, before realizing that the clouds themselves are blurry, like the vaguer sort of watercolor.

A glancing blow to the head—my 5'7” self has been hit by one of the topmost branches of the 12' tree. It is time to acknowledge that today, the patio is not a pleasant place to be.

Monday. Dust storms. Winds from the northwest at 35 mph, gusting up to 70. Even my lungs feel dusty. I pour a glass of water in the kitchen and look out at the chard and carrots in the micro-garden, buffeted by this dry wind all day, and decide to water them again.  While I'm at it, I refill the dish I've begun to leave out for every cat in the neighborhood (apparently), to keep them from pawing the pebbles out of the bugbath to reach the water at the bottom. (A voice in my head whispers, “This is how cat ladies are born.”) As if on cue, Sir Marley comes out from under one of the sand cherries and moseys over for a drink.

When the wind blows from just the right direction, the patio has a “sweet spot” that is more or less sheltered. For now, the wind is blowing just right, and I move the Adirondack chair into its lee. As soon as I sit down, Sir Marley jumps into my lap—the first time he's done that. I sputter at him a bit, things like, “Why don't you go back to your own home and sit on your owner's lap?” and “I am not a cat person!” and “Oh, go away!” At the sound of my voice, Sir Marley makes a questioning little "Whhhrr?" and settles himself more comfortably.

Together, we sink into our haven of quietness and watch the wind.


  1. Sir Marley reminds me of a neighbor's cat who came running every time I was out in the garden. I told her strongly that I was not her owner, but she denied it. I eventually nicknamed her 'Garden'. She was very loving and followed me everywhere. I never offered her anything other than petting and conversation, which she loved. When the neighbor moved, Garden went with her. I miss her more than I thought I would!

  2. Stacy, I can tell you're not a cat person -- you have this idea that cats are *owned* by people. But as any cat can tell you, cat's are owned only by themselves -- although they do often decide to adopt people that they take a liking to. Clearly, Sir Marley has decided to adopt you. (You don't have to worry about becoming a cat lady until you start putting the dish of water in the kitchen so that he can get in out of the heat. What comes after that is a dish of food next to the dish of water -- and before you know what's happened, you wake up one morning to find Sir Marley's head next to yours on the pillow!) -Jean

  3. I have never loved the wind. For the last few years it has blown more here than any other time in my life and now I hate the wind. I am so sick of it. I wish the weather would go back to the soft breezes and gentle rains of my youth. Not usually so negative, but today it's blowing mulch in my eyes!

  4. Winds can bring devastation or they can be cooling. Interesting post.

  5. Timely post, I was looking forward to a morning of gardening, but was thwarted by the winds yet again.

  6. Pickwick, an earlier cat, used to sit on the patio in Camps Bay and YELL - I HATE the wind! And I would call her in. Moments later she'd be out there again. I SAID - I H A T E the W I N D!! We are enjoying living away from that howling southeaster now.

  7. Deb, I'll probably end up missing Sir Marley, too, one day--it's amazing what a sense of...I don't know, maybe presence even an "unofficial" cat like Sir M or Garden contributes to a garden. Garden sounds like she must have been very sweet, if rather in the way.

    Jean--well, I do have this crazy idea that someone should be responsible for a cat, but I see your point--as far as the cat's concerned, that's not the same as ownership! How fortunate I feel to have been adopted. And thank you for outlining the steps to becoming a cat lady--if I find myself starting down that slippery slope, I'll send out a cry for help to the blogosphere!

    Holley, I definitely hear you! It's possible to dress for almost any other kind of weather, but not for wind. And when it blows mulch in your eyes--no. Time to go inside and have some tea. (Or you could be like Diana's cat and stay outside shouting at it, but that doesn't seem helpful.)

  8. NellJean, yes, like so many other forces of nature, it's all about proportion--the right amount at the right time.

    GirlSprout, when the wind kicked in again last night, I had Words to say about it. We were due for a respite! Hope you were able to make up for lost time this afternoon.

    Diana, I guess sometimes it's just more fun to curse the darkness. :) But for you sensible humans, moving seems to have worked out well, too. Porterville seems like a much more congenial place, if you don't find neighbors' roofs in your yard any more.

  9. I've recently moved down to the South Coast of England. To the top of a hill (called a Down in this part of the world - just to confuse outsiders), overlooking the sea and golly it's windy. Luckily it hasn't blown for days and days on end - yet. I can see that that might sap my will to live. But trees that I've planted in the garden with normal staking are suffering and will require proper, serious abnormal staking.

    Thanks so much for the cat lady (cat man)? warning - I've made a note of the danger signs.

  10. Dave, you hear stories out here of pioneers being driven mad by the wind, and I begin to believe them. But they didn't have a view of the sea, from up on a Down, to compensate them. Will adequate staking still allow you to see the trees?

    When you start worrying about Sir Nemesis if he doesn't wreak havoc in your onion patch for a few days, you can safely assume that you're on the way...

  11. Ah the winds of NM...enough to knock you over some days...definitely different than anywhere I have ever visited...

  12. Donna, from what I understand, they're more intense than usual this year--not catastrophic or anything, fortunately, just relentless.