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Illustration by Tom Sullivan
Winds of Change
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Ron Marr: mug
By Ron Marr
The wind is blowing at approximately 35 miles per hour, snapping the sheets on the clothesline with the shotgun crack of a drover’s bullwhip. My dogs, Jack and Hugo, are fond of neither the sound nor the frenetic flapping. The former raises their blood pressure, causing them to jerk and twist their heads at each unwelcome detonation. The latter is simply unnerving, no doubt dredging up the doggie nightmare of giant birds with thrashing wings, avian miscreants bent on avenging the long-forgotten murder of a too-slow sparrow.
The pups keep their distance, throwing me a look that ranks somewhere between confusion and pity. They fail to understand why I’m compelled to occasionally clean canine hair from the linens, especially on days when the effort only adds to the turbulent and unsettling din. Jack and Hugo, being quite fond of Greek mythology, view such an effort as a Sisyphean task, an exercise in redundancy, or perhaps a sign of mild to moderate insanity. I can’t truly say they are mistaken in this analysis, for I’m nearly as bothered by this perpetual prairie Sirocco as they are.
I’ve long since removed the chimes from the few remaining trees in my backyard (the rest of the old oaks and Kentucky coffees were sucked up by a twister some years back) as they stood not a chance against fearsome gusts and deranged tempests. It was an easy job, since only skeletal pieces of the chimes still hung sadly from the limbs. Those musical tubes that once whispered calming tones and muted notes into a peaceful night sky had been stripped from their moorings, scattered about the grass, their pretty voices stilled. It has been many years since I experienced the banshee scream of wind on a regular basis, for I’ve most often hunkered down in those spots where the days are near silent and the soft breezes are but a half-heard whisper.
This was never really a conscious motive, but thinking back, I am certain my choice of locales almost always involved a distinct lack of noise. Both in life and in nature I have steered clear of the boisterous or overbearing, the dull roar, the cacophony and babble of the madding crowd. I am one who prefers to talk softly and burn large sticks. I’ve generally settled in those hidden mountain valleys and midnight forests where the solemn hush is broken only by the hoot of an owl or the rustle of squirrels leaping limb to limb. After many years spent in forgotten outbacks, the hair on the back of my neck goes code-red at so much as the crackle of dry leaves under a wild paw.
Thus, I’ve been a bit on edge of late. If all things are a lesson, and make no mistake that all things are, then my introduction to blustering chaos is a mandate for both adaptation and acceptance. It is pointless to fight against that which cannot be altered, a futile effort to rail at the skies for doing that which comes naturally. It’s the way of the world. Canute could not turn back the tides. Lassie could not prevent Timmy from falling in the well. I can’t stop the wind. End of story. Acceptance of things that can’t be changed is really the easy part. Adaptation requires far greater effort, but I am trying. I’m rebuilding the wind chimes, replacing the strings and fishing line that held my pretty copper choir with flexible wire and strong hooks. I may construct a few Aeolian wind harps (musical gizmos quite pleasing to the ear) and mount them on my fence posts. I could purchase a few kites, as I’ve been told to go fly those more times than I can count.
I suppose I might outfit the dogs with tiny little sails and teach them to wear even tinier little roller skates. It requires no effort or challenge to live with and among those things that are pleasant and pleasing. A person must reach a bit deeper to understand and possibly esteem that which disturbs, inflames, or causes affront. How we view and respond to the hands we are dealt is largely a matter of perception, attitude, and action. Life and wind have much in common. Both often blow. In the face of blunt-force gales we can retreat to shelter, pull high the blankets and curse fate.
Or we can face the cyclone, spread wings and learn to fly.