So this is winter on the north side of the mountain I live on: Sun, wind, wind, snow, wind, sun, wind, wind, wind. The wind rages all day and all night. It blows when the weather turns warmer. It continues blowing to keep the temperature above freezing. It blows for so many days in a row, you start begging God for snow. Arctic cold. Any relief at all.
I’m not talking about a gentle breeze kept honest by a few mild gusts. I’m talking push-the-solid-teak-bench-across-the-entire-length-of-the-porch gusts. I’m talking it’s-a-wonder-the-six-burner-gas-grill-hasn’t-come-through-the-sliding-glass-door-yet wind. Thank God for locking casters is all I can say.
But we knew. I think after the second year of the neighbor clocking 85-mph gusts on his rooftop, we knew. This was no anomaly. This was How It Is Here.
Some mornings we’d wake up and find half a dozen lodge pole pines snapped like 30-foot toothpicks and scattered across the property. Or swinging in the power lines. I told my husband, You know you’re a real man when you have to get out the chainsaw before breakfast just so you can get up the driveway to work!
From October to April, the wind often blows so hard at night, it shakes the bed. Our bedroom faces west, three stories up, and the assault is brutal. We now know the joists are reinforced with hurricane straps. We learned all kinds of interesting tidbits about architecture up here. We learned that a picture window that heaves in and out in a windstorm is one that won’t end up in your lap, even when your heart screams, “Here it comes, this is it!” We learned that no matter how many times you replace the sash on the sliding windows, if the frame was put in crooked, you have a leaky window for life, my friend. Better buy some extra-wide weather stripping.
We also learned that there hasn’t been a wind cover invented yet that can keep the gas fireplace lit on nights like these. We’ve learned that a wind cover sailing through the air at 65 mph can kill anything in its path. We learned that even the wind covers on the huge fireplaces on the McMansions up the street can tear like aluminum foil in the right conditions. Around here, the first thing you do when you wake up is relight the water heater. In spring, while other people are gathering tulips, we gather shreds of roof shingles.
Over time, I’ve learned to walk in this. If I didn’t, I’d go weeks without exercise outside. Yes, I’ve done plenty of time on the treadmill, but prefer fresh air—even if it’s coming at me at 35 mph. I have my nice-day route (the old narrow road) and my windy-day route (the wide new road, where the trees won’t fall on me when they snap). I know every squeaky tree along the way. A tree trunk that’s already cracked creaks in the wind and will soon be a roadside casualty. I give them wide berth.
And every year, right about this time, I start to think about summer. Deep inside, I’m all about Maui. That inner beach keeps me hopeful so I can quit whining about the weather. Because, really, I wouldn’t trade my problems with anyone. Life is, really, very very good. And brisk!