The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
T'was the witch of November come stealin'
- The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot
The wind is howling outside, though the skies are clear. Watching Partner in Grime's flight come into O'Hare on FlightStalker, I imagined the turbulence they were getting - having been a pilot too many years.
As soon as I saw they were taxiing to the gate I texted him a line from a Monty Python skit that alway makes us both laugh.
I was in Wichita once on business, and I remember the wind howling outside my room each and every night. I could only imagine settling in that place, listening from one's crude cabin or homestead, to that hollow sound that only enhanced the loneliness as I lay there and wondered why I did not matter, as I mattered once.
Growing up we went to the coast on most of our vacations, staying in a little rental cabin that was beachfront, only an earth and wooden barrier to protect against storm surge. We went back there in 2014, one last trip with Dad, as a weather system brought high winds to the coast one night. I wondered if Dad was sleeping through it or if he was laying awake, knowing this was his last trip here, listening to the wind bring back so many memories of our youth on this land, even if the cabin had been torn down for condominiums that blocked the sun.
I like the dull roar of the wind, but I'm probably odd in that I prefer stormy weather to calm, unless I'm aloft in it. There is something about the clash of weather systems, the way the sky changes, the sounds, the colors, I am always the one standing outside like an idiot in the rain, turning my face up to the skies when there's a particularly good lightning storm in the distance, instead of hunkering down in safety. Put me on a quiet sunny beach somewhere south and I would be bored out of my mind.
For wind in an airplane is a whole other matter.When flying a plane, wind is the essence of your day. You want enough headwind to give you some good lift on takeoff, and not so much crosswind to cartwheel you when you come back. It seems that only those that love the sky, sea or outdoors, those truly in sync with nature seem to pick up on the inertial energy in the wind.So many things get blown away in a stiff breeze, so many things swept out of your mind with the wind in your face in an open cockpit. Repressed longings, fruitless desire, ghosts of sad reflection, a hundred thoughts never formed and a thousand words never uttered. Wind in your face, sweeping your head of any emotion other than the moment, until all is blown past you to tumble to the earth below. In that moment nothing matters but breathing.
In later years, when flying was not just something I'd signed on to do, but my paycheck, sitting on the ground was NOT an option short of severe icing, freezing rain, zero visibility at the landing airport and typhoons (and spiders, don't ask about the time the airplane got infested with spiders). No, on those days when the wind was blowing, when it was not unsafe, just uncomfortable, off you'd go. You'd spend a few hours getting bounced around like you were in a paint shaker, sometimes dodging thunderstorms as well, only to land, the back of your shirt wet from sweat, knowing "gee - I get to go out and do that again!" And you would, looking at the sky on such flights as an adversary, much as the Knights of old did, gauging the aim of your foe and how hard and from what direction the thrust would come.
But the wind was something else. When the wind broke hard against the windscreen like a Molotov cocktail, the cockpit went totally silent and stayed that way. Wind has a way of isolating, it's battle against you - one that is personal, one that separates you from your companion in spirit as it ties to wrest something away from you that you do not wish to give up. Give me a landing in heavy rain any day over one where the airport is overrun by the treachery of shifting winds. (especially in the Sherpa which was not known as the "flying billboard" for nothing).
No, I don't miss nights like that.
For the wind is not a silent threat any longer, it's a comfort - a familiar sound in a discord of voices. It's the sound that drives me closer to the form that lays beside me, the one that is the rock that shields me from future pain. It's the awareness that I am alive, more alive then all those days I was almost NOT alive. It's the fury and grace of Heaven, which doesn't promise us calm skies, but will hold us up, no matter what life throws our way
As I drift off to sleep, the winds from heaven blow unabated as the city sleeps, across the quiet streets, between the mute and remembering dwellings.