As a cyclist, I’m always aware of the wind. Thinking of the wind today reminded me of living in Oklahoma where a constant, ceaseless wind never leaves you alone.
Like a pushy neighbor, wind squeezes uninhibited and uninvited through the slightest crease in your front door, obtrusive, obnoxious, constant, leaving behind a layer of dust, like empty bottles and potato chips after a loud party.
Leaning against wind on the soccer field, it snaps and flaps my pants legs like an old mother beating her rugs.
Short, stubby trees lean chronically north, backs to the strong south wind like bent old men looking for a seat. Trees don’t develop long torsos, don’t’ extend long arms into the sky. Trees keep their arms down and hands close to their breasts.
I know it’s windy in Oklahoma because one day it stopped blowing and I fell down.
I was told that in the Dust Bowl days people hung wet sheets over closed windows. Yet they still found dust – in their refrigerators! Today Oklahomans just run a dust rag over the counter and tell the kids to button up.
Face the wind and its roar against your ears and blocks other sounds. Like a hot, dry towel it wraps itself around your head and draws until our face feels like the peeling separated from yesterday’s orange.
Your face shrinks into a permanent scowl. Your lips curl inside protectively, and squint against the onslaught of dust.
Through downtown buildings devil wind lurks against the wall and jumps onto the sidewalk to flip up a frilly dress, then roars down the street, scattering papers and blowing off hats.
Firemen say the wind evaporates moisture so fast that prairie grass can be tinder dry an hour after a soaking rain.
Cyclists get so excited by a tail wind they must take care not to ride it so far in an hour they cannot return in a day, struggling against their benefactor gone bad.
Oklahoma’s wind is bare knuckled and hairy chested, unencumbered by any subtlety. It clings to you like a too friendly dog or an ugly date. It grinds off tooth enamel and makes contact lenses torture.
Big trucks blasting through the wind are a blessing to other drivers. Although empty semi trailers have been capsized by wind on the Arizona desert, you don’t think about that when you struggle up behind a moving air dam like a big truck.
Wind is buffeting you, drowning out the radio, and you’re pulling against it like a swimmer against the tide. Suddenly the truck’s vacuum pulls you into its protective pouch and your world grows silent, smooth and easy.
Oklahoma wind gets to newcomers. They’re not used to wind flipping their car hood against their windshield when they check the oil, or chasing their wigs across the yard, or searching the neighborhood for their trash cans and small dogs.
We may not be Oklahoma wind rookies, but winds still catch most of us, sometime. A death, unwanted transfer, church conflict, downsizing, child’s problem or spouse’s health are all winds that can sweep us like tumbleweeds over barren plains.
You can roar in frustration and anger, throw up your hands, pull your hair and give up the ghost.
Me? I’m going to slide in behind a big truck.