Blog Life Lessons

Is Blowing Out the Cobwebs a Measure of Success?

March 30, 2012

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate wind? It rattles my brains, leaving me scattered, in speech and thought. I manage to remain intact, bodily, since velocity levels only reach 50 miles per hour. Please remember that:  “only.” This time of year on the Colorado plains, talk tends to gravitate towards which way the wind is blowing. The question of to blow, or not, isn’t an issue. I’m sure there are parts of the world where March lions cooperate and come in as they are supposed to, manes waving grandiosely, leaving fluffy white lambs in their wake, but that ain’t the case here, pardner.

In Colorado, everything about spring is variable, except for the fact that my daffodils pop up without assistance on March 15th. That’s correct. The Ides of March and daffodils are one and the same at our house. Julius Caesar met his end at the hands of fellow politician, the aptly-named Brutus, on that date. My perky yellow and white star-shaped flowers, their brown paper-wrapped stems staunchly erupting from crusty and somewhat frozen dirt, oblivious to what’s coming around the corner, weather-wise, venture into the world much as did Caesar, with trust and bravado. These two optimistic traits aren’t necessarily a good idea, if you’re a student of history.

Wind, wind, go away. Leave my flowers for another day. . .

The problem is the finicky nature of wind in our state. It doesn’t play by the rules, and wouldn’t recognize a lamb from a lion, since there are no natural lions in the Mountain Time Zone. Okay, yes, there are “mountain lions,” but I don’t think cougars are what that old folklore had in mind.

More often than not, March eases in beautifully, luring with her gentle breezes, coaxing us to drag bikes out of the basement, garden hoses out of storage and daffodil bulbs to bear petals. In those all too brief moments,  I can almost believe we’re in for the type of spring weather I’ve experienced down South, and there’s no other word for it than lovely. Days of nurturing sunshine, warming soft petals, pastel hued in variegated shades of pink, lavender and cream, are met at night with subtle darkness, spiked with stars, black velvet, all at ease. All washed down with bourbon to melt your heart. I love the South.

But then, March snarls, baring pointed teeth, laughing hysterically. “Ha! Fooled you!” says the false Colorado springtime. Next thing I know, I’m left with mummified flower petals, dimmed of their lustrous color too soon, desiccated by brutal winds no less harsh than those that blow over the Sahara desert.

There are two circumstances that trail the wind, which takes a physical form, dancing through the cornfields out my back door, and across streets, in swirls and eddies of dust-laden debris.

First, dare I mention it, is the “A” word. That’s right. Allergies, which are right up there with being stabbed to death by a bunch of your business associates. At least, it seems like that, the way my family is snorting and hacking.

Track meets: where winter meets spring, costume-wise. And yes, they are cold.

The second circumstance lasts about as long as springtime allergies:  school sporting events, which gear up in early March, winding down about the time you think that breathing may not kill you. Windy tennis matches, chilling out (literally) in snow drifts watching kids pole vault, and picking grit out of my teeth after cheering my kid on as he pulls around that final corner in the two-mile run (always the second to last event of the meet, by the way) all tend to mess with my head.

During this dustup, I still attempt to work. Life continues relentlessly, regardless of my fuzzy state. What with all this clutter blowing around me, I fall victim to writer’s block. There are words and ideas in my cotton-stuffed head, but no way to get them out.

I worried over this last week while driving east towards Keenesburg, a town edging up near one thousand inhabitants, sitting precariously out on the prairie, whose town motto is “‘Where a Handshake is still a part of doing business.’”

I didn’t want to make the hour-long drive to sit in the wind and watch tennis, but it’s hard to tell that to your high schooler who’s in the emotional throes of the last few months of senior year. It’s our last spring for high school sports, and I suppose we’re as much in the grip of this realization as the allergies. So, I grabbed a warm jacket, hat and blanket, and dug out my old map, the one listing directions to all the high schools in our league. It’s crinkled and worn, having seen much use over the years. The directions would make Google Maps frown in scorn.

As I drive, I squint down at the two-inch block of instructions, typed without bullet points, spacing between steps, or distances, and worry whether I’ll be able to spot the county roads. Then there’s the oblique instruction to “turn right off exit and go to the road after the railroad tracks.” Tussling with the question of why this road doesn’t have a name, my head begins to ache. Just keep on driving, I think.

The iPod blasts music, and I put Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G on repeat, marveling as I listen to the violin bow as it skips and gavottes over the strings, dancing a jig with itself, partnered by answering echoes of a French horn. Wind buffets the car in steady gusts, blowing clean blue across tan prairie grass, and the miles tick on. Lukewarm afternoon sun creates a glare across the dusty windshield, but the car’s thermometer assures me it’s really 53 degrees, promising that at least there will be little chill in the bleachers.

As I drive, lost in music, the knot in my head begins to loosen, the thoughts begin to flow in. I can’t wait to get to the high school so I can write down all my ideas. I know I’m in the right place when I see the navy blue and white activity bus parked alongside the chain link fence across from the tennis courts. One hour later, I head back west, driving into the setting sun. My daughter won her match, and gave me a hug for coming to watch her play. That’s payment in and of itself.

It’s amazing how accomplishing something you didn’t want to do lightens a mood. On the way home, Bare Naked Ladies croon “Pinch Me” and I sing back to the radio.

Driving east, Mozart’s lyrical notes unstoppered my mind; on the way back home, the lyrics of the song I sang along with opened my eyes. I suppose this is all about “trying to see the world beyond my front door”, “trying to figure out what all this is for.” Whatever it is that it’s all about, being out in the wind that day set my mind free. I guess it blew out the cobwebs, let me think things through.

I finished the first chapter of my new novel this week. I suppose that’s some measure of success. There must be some good in all that wind.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Kathy April 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    If you haven’t seen this, check it out: it’s a fantastic visualization of wind velocities across the US, updated every hour off of the National Digital Forecast Database. Hopefully he’ll find a global database so he can generate a map for the whole Earth. (Note: hover your cursor to get data points or zoom by clicking on any area of the map.)

    http://hint.fm/wind/

  • Reply Cynthia April 11, 2012 at 11:36 am

    For all of our similarities, Em, you and I are different on this one: I LOVE the wind! I HATE what it kicks up (dust, allergies, small houses), but I LOVE the wind itself. It makes me feel excited about movement and change and going places — it’s an adventurous energy. When I was young, when a hurricane was approaching, I would go sit in one of the trees in our front yard, somewhat sheltered from flying debris, and revel in the swaying of the tree and the air rushing around and past me. Then when I was a teenager, after I got my driver’s license and when I wasn’t competing in a horse show, I would drive around on weekend nights in my T-top car on wide, empty streets with the radio blaring and the wind rushing around me. That’s right, no high school parties for this girl — just me, music, and the wind. Sometimes I would drive out to the airport, grab a snack in one of the airport eateries (great cornbread — it was New Orleans after all,) sit in front of one of the big glass windows, and watch the people bustling around, leaving and arriving, and the airplanes take off and land. For me, it was the same type of movement energy, and I loved it. I still do. Unfortunately, it seems harder here in Colorado to avoid all of the dust and debris that the wind kicks up since it’s always so non-humid here as compared to the Deep South, so there’s always dried-up stuff laying around, keen on moving to Kansas. But whenever I can isolate myself to the wind itself, it never ceases to bring a huge smile to my face, heart, and soul.

    • Reply Emily Kemme April 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s not wind itself, it’s content. In the South, the wind carries scents of salt water near the coast, or wafts of magnolia if you’re inland. Southern wind is romantic, even in a hurricane. Colorado wind rustles up dirt.

  • Reply Judy April 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Go, girlfriend! May the wind be ever at your back.
    Judy

  • Reply S. April 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    It is so fun to read your articles. Did you know that the wind takes away negative ions…so… we can’t feel well in the wind.

  • Reply Monica March 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Great article. You and I have many similarities.

    Dislike the wind and love the South, well parts of it, and the food. Love to cook and create. And love Colorado.

  • Reply Michelle Sauder March 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Wonderful blog this week!!! Really could visualize being in the gusty wind with you.

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