Thursday, December 3, 2009

When the Wind Stops

Here's a man who appreciates the seasons -- and writes about the rural life for people who live in the city that hasn't been rural in several hundred years.

New York Times
December 3, 2009

This farm lies on an eastward-facing slope, which rises gradually to a thickly wooded ridge in the west. I can feel the mass of that hill whenever the sun goes down, and yet, where wind is concerned, there’s very little lee to it. Last week, the wind came ripping over the crest, knocking down a couple of fence sections and gnawing at the trees with a suctioning, siphoning sound. All day long, the air boomed and roared.

By evening, even the horses were weary. They had been blown about all day as though they weighed a few ounces instead of a thousand pounds apiece. A tree cracks in the distance and they trot, alarmed, across the pasture. A whirlwind of leaves twists past, and they race away from it. The corner of a tarp gets loose, and off they go. They transmit this anxious energy to me, undiluted. I prefer the way the pigs and chickens react. In a high wind, the pigs snooze together at the back of their house, straw pulled over their heads. The chickens sit on their perches, knitting and doing their accounts.

Sometime during the night, the wind dropped and the next morning was nearly still, smoke rising almost straight up from my chimney and from those down the valley. There was a strange sense of propriety about, a primness in the way every tree had relaxed and, at the same time, come back to attention. In this new silence, the horses seemed enveloped in stillness. They were no longer bracing themselves. Their bones and sinews had relaxed.

And I relaxed, too. I stood in the sun feeling the strength of its rays now that the wind wasn’t scattering them. When the wind blows, the horses always stand with their heads facing away from it. In the quiet of the morning, they were no longer magnetized. Without a wind, they were free to face in any direction they chose. Without a wind, the day could go any way it wanted.

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