I. Curse The Wind
The trees tell of wind. They whisper and dance, and creak out complaints, cursing the breeze. Ponderosa pine and cottonwood branches reach downwind, seeking shelter behind their own trunks, foliage fluttering like flags. We curse the wind, too, pausing our work and watching the trees in their struggle.
That damn wind!
Here we are, beginning our first chapter of the Spoon Full Journal, and we’re talking about the weather. But we’ve learned it’s not whether you talk about weather, it’s how you talk about weather. So get yourself a glass of ice water. Come take a seat on the porch. Let’s talk about wind.
II. The Wind Hawk
Over there, in the north by northwest where the hills seem to meet, that’s where the wind comes from. Coming down from the mountains, the wind moves like water. Cool wind flowing and funneling into the river canyon, following the current, a river of air over the river of water. Our farm is at the downriver end of the canyon, so when the wind gets to us it’s all ready to spill out over our wide, flat fields. It spreads its wings, like a hawk coming out of a dive.
And then it gets to the garden and chases off any still, warm air. Any tender plant is bound for a struggle. The wind wicks away moisture. Carbon dioxide is exhaled by microbes in the soil, and then inhaled deeply by plants, through the underside of their leaves. The hard wind sweeps that carbon dioxide away, and stunts our vegetables' growth. When the wind arrives in the morning and blows without pause for three days, its onslaught can blast tomato leaves and topple our cornstalks.
You won’t hear any insects buzzing around when that wind starts up. That’s a problem, because that wind starts its blowing as soon as the snow melts in the spring, when the fruit trees begin to flower. So the pollinators are grounded most days, hungry, working part-time. Our favorite fruits need pollination.
You’ll only see birds flying in one direction when the summer wind rips. They’ll soar downwind, fast. The wind ruffles their feathers and snatches their songs in its talons and scatters them off in a rush. We’re glad we don’t have to fly in that wind.
III. Work In The Wind
Walking and working gets hard enough, as the hours blow by. That’s when we curse the wind. We curse it quietly, under our breath because nobody else could catch our windblown words, anyway, and then we complain about it later, over dinner. The greenhouse doors slam open and shut, sun hats blow off of foreheads, bits of dust fly into eyes. Skin gets parched and chilled and chapped.
Our complaints can bring us together. One of us five farmers hails from Hong Kong, and yes he gets funny looks over in Ellensburg, because his race is rare around here. These looks don't bother Geoff, except he doesn't want anybody else to feel uncomfortable on his account. Geoff is a local community guy. He wants to cook dinner for his family and friends, and he wants to invite you to be one of his family and friends, if you’re a kind person.
So Geoff brings up the wind. How it makes it hard to stay hydrated, how he’ll wear a sweater when the thermometer says 72, how his eyes water even when he isn’t sad. How the wind comes and goes with elemental stamina. And people visibly relax, in their shoulders and eyes. They see Geoff as a human being, all of a sudden, because he said something they know to be true. They see him as a true neighbor, and one who works outdoors, at that. Working outdoors earns respect, around here. Working outdoors means you get to know wind. It’s our common wind, our touchstone for common ground, for those of us who literally share common ground. It’s a little more potent than talking about the weather with your neighbor in the city. Out here, we work in the weather. We work in the wind.
IV: Bless The Wind
At our best, we work like the wind. Without strain, fatigueless, only visible in the effects that we have on the world. The wind works hard without trying. Up through the hills overlooking our farm, it turns tall white windmills to make power. Someone told me once that the earth spins because of wind blowing against mountains. Interesting theory.
My theory is that wind is like nature itself. It is the subject of curses and myth. It flows through our experience of the world as an invisible force without beginning nor end. It moves where it will, heedless to prayers and threats. Old sailors used to tie knots in their bandanas, and then untie them when the sails were slack, hoping to release a breath in the sky. I wonder how that worked for them.
We’ve built a long line of pallet fences at the windward edge of the garden Next spring we’ll plant a thousand trees and bushes to grow ourselves shelter. Like a dam holds back water, and a ring can contain fire, our windbreak will help us, temporarily. In time, all of our barriers will fall, and the wind will be a hawk here again.
In the meantime, we complain, until the winds die down in early August. And then, maybe because of the clean air coming down from the mountains and pines, maybe because of the slicing through afternoon summer heat, maybe because it vitalizes and inspires in a subconscious way, maybe just because the wind is so familiar, or maybe we need something to complain about, in this paradise, maybe then we’ll miss the wind. And then we’ll know we love the wind. The wind blesses us.