Old Mother West Wind

The wind is a persona here. A formidable one.

I like the wind. I like it a lot. I’m the person at the front of any boat, including the Staten Island Ferry, letting the wind howl past my ears. I’m the person who went out to the front yard as a hurricane blew through northern Connecticut many years ago. I wanted  just to experience the wildness of nature. I’m the kid my uncle had to drag into the house when a tornado was coming up the road toward his Indiana farm.

I grew up with Thornton Burgess and the Old Mother West Wind stories. They were among my dad’s favorites. The west wind was creative, and kind, and nurturing, most of the time. Her children, the Merry Little Breezes, scampered throughout the hills, making mischief and playing. Their mother was harsh when it was deserved, but she was never unfair. She was Mother Nature. She wasn’t to be feared.

I’m reconsidering.

I live in the hills now, surrounded by hills. There’s a long valley below us and a lake created by a flood-control dam. Maybe it’s all the topographical facts put together that make this the windiest place I have ever lived.


The wind here is epic. Picture gale-force winds by the sea, for days on end. Wind that rips branches off trees and howls around the house like a banshee.

Town is just a mile away. It’s different there. Franklin Heights, where the blueberry farm is, rises up behind the homes on one side of the street. The wind skips over the village, down Franklin Mountain, and scatters across the Delaware River into Otego and Oneonta counties.

Our little farmhouse is nestled below the level of the open acreage behind us to the north, The meadow dips off at a 45-degree angle across the road in front of us. Beyond the Handsome Brook to the south, the hills rise again. To the east, the land gently rises to distant hills. To the west, the hills block the weather from the valley and force it up the brook onto the hillside, past our 100 year old house.

Picture a feather pillow. Punch it down in the center, bunch it up on two sides, pat a gentle slope on the third, and leave the fourth side lower than the rest. That’s west. And our house perches above that hollow you made with your fist.

I’m no scientist, but I think we’re describing a wind tunnel. The experience of the past few days has made me aware that this may be a unique feature of where we live.

We have had solid days of howling wind. I do not have an anemometer, and that may be a good thing. I think if I knew how hard that wind was actually blowing, I’d be more anxious.

This morning, it’s as though it never happened. There’s a gray mist over the hills, rain is on the way. And everything is peaceful.

Today’s forecast? Wind.


Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.