It seems I have landed in a particularly windy place here in Vermont.
November and December have, so far, brought some magnificent wind storms. Gusts in the 30-40 mph range. Regularly. Will this continue through the rest of the winter months? Time will tell. I’m new here.
One such wind storm came through last night. It kept me awake all night. The National Weather Service issued a warning for gusts of 40 mph. What I experienced were gusts at least that strong every few minutes – rattling windows and moaning through the tall maples and evergreen trees surrounding my yard – all night long. The dogs slept through it. I was envious of their obliviousness. Sleep; all I wanted was sleep! The unending series of gusts/calm/gusts and accompanying change in air pressure gave me a rare nighttime headache. I read. I tossed and turned. I read some more. I considered searching for earplugs I haven’t used in years and hate. Anything for a little sleep.
Wide awake, I was thinking about… wind. I mean, if this is my new lot in life, how am I going to handle it? I can’t control the wind, I can only control how I choose to respond to it. There is so much I love about my new home and surroundings. I can’t and won’t let wind tarnish that.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good wind storm.
Once in a while. Just not…regularly.
It finally occurred to me that perhaps this sort of windy wintry weather is what others living on this open, higher-elevation ridge have been hinting at since I arrived. “We have our own micro-climate up here,” they tell me. I assumed they meant snow depth.
Lying in bed, frustratingly awake, I resolved to become friends with the wind. The dogs don’t mind it (mostly), so why should I? There are lulls in the strong winds, for hours, even days. I just need to be flexible about when we head outside to play, taking advantage of the calm. Doable.
I think it was about 5:00 am this morning when I flashed upon a fond memory involving wind: They Call the Wind Maria. When I was in high school, I watched a movie on TV with my father: Paint Your Wagon. We loved it! I’ve watched it a few times since then, and each time I fall in love with it all over again. It’s a musical Western about the mid-1800s California gold rush, starring Lee Marvin and a young Clint Eastwood. It’s based on a 1951 musical and premiered in 1969 when I was thirteen and oh so impressionable.
The most memorable song from the movie is They Call the Wind Maria.
Here’s the video of actor Harve Presnall singing it. Oh, be still my heart! I’ve fallen in love all over again. That voice, that beard, those eyes! The heartbreak!
I also fell in love with both Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. I fell in love easily back then.
Some trivia about the song: The American singer, songwriter and producer Mariah Carey was named after it. Maria Creek, a glacial meltwater stream in Antarctica, was so named because of the strong winds in the area. And an episode of the TV series M*A*S*H is called, “They Call the Wind Korea.”
When I googled the song, I spelled the name Mariah. Turns out I was wrong. It’s pronounced that way, but is spelled Maria. From Wikipedia:
In George Rippey Stewart’s 1941 novel Storm, he names the storm that is the protagonist of his story Maria. In 1947, Stewart wrote a new introduction for a reprint of the book, and discussed the pronunciation of “Maria”: “The soft Spanish pronunciation is fine for some heroines, but our Maria here is too big for any man to embrace and much too boisterous.” He went on to say, “So put the accent on the second syllable, and pronounce it ‘rye'”.
The success of Stewart’s novel was one factor that motivated U.S. military meteorologists to start the informal practice of giving women’s names to storms in the Pacific during World War II. The practice became official in 1945. In 1953, a similar system of using women’s names was adopted for North Atlantic storms. This continued until 1979, when men’s names were incorporated into the system. Although Stewart’s novel is set in 1935, the novel and its effect on meteorology later inspired Lerner and Lowe to write a song for their play about the California gold rush, and like Stewart, they too gave a wind storm the name Maria, which is pronounced /məˈraɪ.ə/. The lines throughout the song end in feminine rhymes mostly using the long ‘i’ sound /aɪ/, echoing the stress pattern and vowel sound of the name Maria.
Here are the lyrics.
Away out here they’ve got a name for rain and wind and fire.
The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe. They call the wind Maria.
Maria blows the stars around and sets the clouds a-flyin’.
Maria makes the mountains sound like folks was out there dyin’.
Maria. (Maria). Maria. (Maria). They call the wind Maria.
Before I knew Maria’s name and heard her wail and whinin’, I had a gal.
She had me and the sun was always shinin’.
But then one day I left my gal.
I left her far behind me and now I’m lost, so gol’ darn lost not even God can find me.
Maria. (Maria.) Maria. (Maria.) They call the wind Maria.
Out here they have a name for rain and wind and fire only.
When you’re lost and all alone, there ain’t no name for lonely.
And I’m a lost and lonely man without a star to guide me.
Maria blow my love to me. I need my gal beside me.
Maria. (Maria.) They call the wind Maria. Maria! Maria. (Maria.) They call the wind Maria.
A song of longing, regret, and loneliness, with a hopeful plea.
Yes. Those are the emotions a windstorm evokes. I felt all of them last night, listening to the wind buffet my house and the trees. With the holidays approaching, I’ve been wallowing in nostalgia and feeling not a little alone in my new home, most of the neighbors I’ve met having decamped for warmer climes for the winter. There’s nothing like a howling wind outside to make one feel small and alone, a little fearful, but ultimately grateful – even hopeful – having survived and realizing it’s time to focus on life’s cherished gifts.
A cleansing wind. Renewal.
I’m now here on this ridge for good and bad. It’s my home. The wind will continue doing its thing, regardless of my wishes. So, my choice?
Embrace the wind.
And sing to myself, They Call the Wind Maria.
Here’s a glimpse of what the windstorms I’m experiencing are like.
That video was taken the morning of November 26th. In addition to all-night wind the night before, it had snowed. I awoke to drifts of snow against the door leading into the yard, covering the steps. The dogs were hesitant to go outside, wondering what happened to the steps, but also because the wind was still howling.
Good thing we all like winter ’cause it might be a long one.
I’ll leave you with a few quotes on the subject of wind.
Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.John Ruskin
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.William Arthur Ward
O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?Percy Bysshe Shelley
If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.Khalil Gibran
True courage is like a kite; a contrary wind raises it higher.John Petit-Senn
Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!William Butler Yeats
What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?E. M. Forster