A Mighty Wind

I admit it, I brag pretty shamelessly on Colorado. I’ll talk up the mountains, I’ll cheer on the Broncos, I’ll even fill in a newcomer on our weather’s four seasons – as in 6 a.m., noon, 6 p.m. and midnight. But there’s one area where I have to admit that my “second home state” of Kansas has us beat.

Wind.

I know, Colorado gets gusts. Pretty good ones, too. But Kansas gets wind. The name means “People of the South Wind” and they ain’t kidding. Never mind the tornadoes that sent Dorothy to Oz, it’s the straight-line winds that’ll carry off Auntie Em, Uncle Henry and Toto, too, if you’re not careful. I’m talking about a mass of moving air matched only by the collective filibusters of the United States Senate, with a presidential speechwriter or two thrown in.

That big.

I think about it most at this time of year. March and April are known in Western Kansas as the “blow season,” the time of year when you really didn’t need the shingles on your roof … or the homework in your hands … but you probably did need that dent in your car from the door that blew open next to you. It’s a time when wind can grab a headline all by itself – and just about anything else that isn’t nailed down securely.

Maybe a bit of Kansas blew inside me, too. Because “blow season” remains a time when I can look for my own winds of change. And usually find them.

It was during my first blow season 16 years ago when I became a Kansan, a reporter and a fiancé all in the same week.

It was at that time of year five years ago that I gained my brother-in-law Jay and lost my grandmother-in-law Val on the same day.

Three years ago, the winds carried us to Missy, Heather’s developmentally disabled aunt. We moved in her with that April, became her guardians not long after, and – well, “change” is too small a word for everything that’s happened since. So is “wonderful.”

That’s the thing about wind. It doesn’t let things rest. It upends them, frees them, forces them to move, often in directions no one could predict.

When we notice, it’s mostly the inconvenience; the trash bin that got blown over, say, or the old aspen that was finally born down. It’s human nature. We grumble, even on the rare occasions when we think of the big picture. (Theatrical voiceover: “It was a world without a breeze … without a season … without a hope. Columbia Pictures brings you a Joel Schumacher film. Gone … With The Wind.”)

We need to be stirred up. Even if we’d never admit it.

Granted, that sort of change isn’t limited to March and April, any more than big wind is. But it’s not bad to have a time when it’s in your face, a season when you have to think about it. To be reminded that we only determine so much – and that that can be a good thing.

Good or not, it’s a wind we have to ride.

I’ll try to remember that as the windows rattle and my sinuses scream with the shifting air of our own Colorado gusts. Today’s blast of wind may be tomorrow’s welcome rainstorm.

Or, perhaps, tomorrow’s snowstorm.

After all, this is March on the Front Range. And the next season is due any hour now.

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