Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wherever It Pleases

If it were possible to have anything imagined come true, if only for a fleeting second, I would certainly leap to the skies and sail. Arms stretched out wide, legs trailing, I would float and glide effortlessly through the clouds with planet earth far below. It would take only a slight rotation of arms, turn of head, or flex of finger to change altitude, speed or course. Flying as high and far as I wished, washed by the cool air, its whoosh in my ears, I’d surrender myself to its will. Total, exhilarating freedom!

I have witnessed this. Driving home from a trip one year, My husband and I took a long, meandering route and happened onto the unique desert community of Osoyoos, B.C. A resort area, all of the town’s motels crowd the southern end of their large, treasured lake. Because beach access is so desirable and at a premium, these buildings are aligned with their narrow ends along the lake frontage. Rooms with a lake view and balcony are extremely limited. Local schools were not yet out for the summer and it was a weekday, so we were fortunate enough to get one.

Photo by Steve Hilebrand

Just before sundown a strong wind came up from the lake, blowing inland. We stood on the tiny balcony reveling in the view of water and sky, the raw power of wind whipping our hair, flapping our jackets. We became aware of a multitude of Seagulls - all “riding the wind” - approaching gradually and silently. Wings outstretched, they glided slowly by, above and directly in front of us, suspended in air, seemingly close enough to touch. We could hear the wind in their wings, see their slight adjustments of wingtip feathers and tails. No wing flapped; it was as if each bird was tethered to the ground by an invisible string held by some “kite master”.

Seagull by Lee Karney

Silently, they drifted across that end of the lake, changed altitude, then drifted back to where they had begun, over and over again. We found it an incredibly moving sight

              Dad at the Lake
My sister once owned a cabin on a lake in Montana where we gathered as a family each summer.

Winds came up often there, many times sudden and unexpected. I loved the sight and sound of waves crashing along the shore, but our family was always driven into a quick frenzy. There were things to be weighted down or retrieved from the beach, my dad’s motor boat to be hauled out on the “railroad”, outdoor living stuff to be anchored down up at the cabin. Our side of the lake was not timbered, just rolling dry hills covered with sage and juniper brush, so nothing slowed the wind. I doubt that much slows it there, anyway.

Tornado Damage at Canyon Ferry, Montana - 1967

One year a rare, small tornado did damage, daintily plucking the roofs off of two cabins, arbitrarily skipping several (my sister’s among those) then wrecking others before lifting up and away.

Tornado Damage at Canyon Ferry

Another year a wind-driven fire raged, begun by careless outdoor burning. In 2000, tremendous fires raged on both sides of that lake. Our family no longer owns property there, but years of memories drove us to follow the fires’ paths daily. Again, the winds played a role. It's not all bad news - past experience has taught us that the summer after a fire quite often brings an over-abundance of fresh, new growth.

Wind truly is an awesome power - one that I doubt we ever really “control”. Humankind simply learns (or not) to respect it, adapt to it, use it, live with it. It does what it will. So it is with all magnificent forces.

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to the spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”       John 3:6-8


  1. the wind...that force of nature that can feel so welcoming...carry the birds...the clouds and the kites...and then, can also be so devastating.

    nice post...filled with happy times...and sadness.
    i love your cloud pictures...and the old 'dad at the lake' picture with the crashing waves.
    (are the Hot Links supposed to go someplace else?)

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Laura! No, the "Hot Links" appeared out of nowhere - guess it was the source of the non-copyrighted pictures I chose to put here. Darn - and they were good ones, too! I found another, more trusted source, so there should be seagull pictures there now. Live and learn, I guess... ah, this web stuff! (I know that you know the frustrtions with THAT!)

  3. Beautiful post! I love the gulls riding those wind currents. I think I could have watched them for hours.

    When I first moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area in 1999 I was almost freaked out by the fact that there was never a still day. There is always wind or, at the very least, a breeze up here. Now, unmoving air seems stagnant to me and gives me this feeling that something is wrong. I guess I've adapted to the wind. LOL!

    I was in the Fridley tornadoes in 1965 (can google), so I have a healthy respect for the power of the wind. Nature can make you feel totally insignificant, as well we should be. ;)