They’ve been warning us for days that we were in for a windy night, and they were right. It began howling before midnight last night and it hasn’t let up yet. In bed last night, before I fell asleep, I could actually feel the bed moving as the house shook in the gusts. There are still old windows in the third floor where the bedroom is, and those old wooden sashes danced in their frames all night long. The temperature dropped rapidly and the water froze in the bird bath overnight. When I let the dogs out this morning at 5:00 am, there were snow flurries swirling around. It sure doesn’t feel like April 3rd.
This is the kind of wind that moves stuff whether you want it moved or not. Gusts were to be as high as 60 miles per hour. I couldn’t begin to estimate what speeds we’ve had, but I can tell you that we live on the top of a hill on a street that runs down to the Susquehanna River 3 blocks away, due east. We affectionately call our street a wind tunnel, because any wind from the west (which is most of our wind) sweeps down our street unblocked. I generally measure the wind by the sounds. Often it is the sound of something rolling down the street or blowing over. This morning I see that the wind managed to rip the door off of the neighbor’s shed, although I didn’t hear that. The more common sound indicator is the vibration of our down spout on the front of the house. On particularly windy days the spout catches the wind and vibrates, creating a hum kind of like a string bass. This morning the down spout has been singing every few minutes, and the pitch has gone up, more of a viola sound. So I guess I can say it is viola windy.
I don’t mind a windy day if I don’t have to be out in it for an extended period of time. It makes basic chores a little tougher, but it is manageable compared to deep snow or consistently freezing temperatures The chickens and ducks don’t seem to mind this morning; they are out and about and doing their thing, feathers ruffling but otherwise unperturbed. They don’t suffer from wind-blown feathers like people suffer from wind-blown hair; their feathers fall right back into place after standing on end as though nothing has happened. (Actually, I don’t really suffer from wind-blown hair, either, but that’s due to my lack of hair and not its performance in the wind.)
Yesterday we spent the day with Jeremy’s dad at a couple of architectural salvage/reuse places in search of materials to build a greenhouse. In particular, we were looking for windows. The greenhouse is planned for the back corner of the property and it’s not going to be very big. Although we would love the look and charm of old wooden window sashes, we were looking for lightly used modern double-hung, double pane windows for ease of maintenance and better insulating properties. We managed to score some great finds at incredibly inexpensive prices. We bought 2 large double-hung double windows, a large double-hung single window, a large non-opening stationary window, and a fully functional door. We also picked up an unused half-round window for the eave of the barn and a lightly used exhaust fan for the greenhouse, and for everything, we paid less than $250. We were thrilled with the quality and the prices. If you have a need for odds and ends like these, it really can pay to check businesses like these. They often are affiliated with nonprofits, another good reason to support them.
This morning as I listen to the wind, I think about the challenge of building a greenhouse that will hold up to this kind of blowing. The greenhouse will be built without a floor, over pavers. I know Jeremy’s dad has a plan and I’m sure it will be sufficiently anchored, somehow, but feeling the house and the bed shake last night makes me pause. There is a lot of glass in a greenhouse, a lot of risk and exposure. It seems fragile by definition, a thin barrier to everything the weather can throw at it.
We build lives that we hope will withstand the challenges we are sure to face, but we never really know until we are tested. We have faith, in God or nature or ourselves, but we cannot predict the future or the challenges that will come our way, some we create and others we cannot control. Nature reminds us of this again and again.
Still, we try. We build, we attempt, we create.
Jeremy and I could choose not to build this greenhouse. It’s a risk, given our location. But glass is fragile everywhere, and the wind blows. To not risk is to give up, to concede defeat before trying. So it is with this writing, for me. When I put words on the screen, I don’t really know if anybody will read them but myself. I’m not ever sure that they are words worth putting down. The wind of indifference could just blow them away. They could become the tree falling in the forest, when nobody is there to hear it.
But I still put them down on the screen. I don’t have faith that they will be read so much as I have a little faith that if they are read, the reader will find some grain of truth, some nugget of value. But maybe not – who knows? I’m still going to put these words down, to create something where before there was nothing, because it feeds my soul. I’m still going to keep writing The Lonely Time because I think Helen has something to say to me. Maybe only to me. The act of writing, to me, has become my insight to myself, my means of capturing these moments of my life, fears and celebrations, warts and all. maybe more than anything, writing has given me the courage to hope, to explore changes and opportunities and risks that I wouldn’t have before.
So Jeremy and I (and, mostly, his dad,) are going to build this greenhouse, this house of glass. We are going to challenge the wind, to face into it and accept the risk. And I’m going to keep on writing.
And when the wind stops, we will survey the results and pick up any pieces that need replaced or fixed. We will make adjustments and move on, continuing to build a place where things can grow and be nurtured.
And when the metaphorical wind stops scouring my writing, I’m going to do the same.