Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Written back when I lived by the sea in Beaufort. Published 4/23/2022
Many people have asked me why I love sailing so much. After all, I have made a 30-year career out of teaching it to thousands, I must love sailing right? Well, to be honest, I don't care about sailing or boats or teaching for that matter. What I love most about sailing is the wind.
As my wife and I went to bed last night, we listened to the growing wind as a storm rolled out to sea. Life by the Atlantic is amazing in a storm. Getting the chance to sleep to the sound of a building gale is thrilling, if not a little scary. We chatted about the feeling of an impending storm, and we agreed that the energy of such an event gets us both a bit excited. That is to say, excited, scared, overwhelmed, and a hundred other emotions after surviving two Hurricanes in as many years, perched at the end of the world on the edge of the North Atlantic.
But the wind that came with those Hurricanes, and Sandy before that, gave me a little PTSD about storms. While I love the wind, it brings up a bunch of old feelings that scare the hell out of me. So while we listened to the freshening breeze last night, we chatted about the meaning of zephyr and debated the intensity of the wind to justify the use of such a term as we drifted off to sleep.
At 3 AM, a crash outside our bedroom woke us both. The sky was flickering with a violent blue light, and off in the distance I could hear the angry rumble of the approaching front. My dog Buxton, never a fan of guns or fireworks, cowered with her head buried beneath my side of the bed because her generously wide ass could not fit all the way under. She had rearranged all the rugs in my house trying to escape the approaching noise, balling them up into little piles in each room before resigning herself to half-hiding under my bed. This was going to be bad.
We left the windows open, enjoying the fresh air and electric energy of the coming storm at 9 PM, but now at 3 AM, we thought better of it. The rain poured in my bathroom window and the wind ran the entire roll of our last roll of toilet paper into the toilet. I discovered the crash that woke us as well. The empty tin can my wife uses to disguise the extra roll of TP blew off the shelf and onto the floor with the line of winds that welcomed the impending storm. I shut the window and got a flashlight to see if I could discover any other damage.
Nothing else seemed broken or out of place, except for the banging porch swing that wobbled irately while the sheets of rain and wind rattled on its chains and slammed against the porch railing. I stuck a table under it to seize its movement and shivered as the rain coated my naked legs and boxer shorts. There is something nice about living at the end of the world in winter, where you can walk freely in your underwear on your front porch.
As I climbed back into bed, I promised myself that I would change the sheets in the morning, as my rain-soaked legs and sandy feet felt disgusting on the still-warm bed linens. My wife and I both tried to sleep, but Buxton was unable to get comfortable and kept jostling the bed as she tried to pry herself between the storage bins hiding under our bed. Life in a 612-square-foot home.
I lay there, annoyed by the dog, but loving the fear I experienced as the weather raged on the other side of my window. I don't like roller coasters or slasher films, but a good thunderstorm gets my blood pumping and adrenaline flowing. If I was a little braver, I wanted to go for a run in the raging storm just to experience the feel of the wind. Instead, I rolled over and fell back to sleep.
I woke a little after 6 and the brightening sky indicated that the storm had passed, even if the wind was still howling. A pile of foam board my neighbor had sitting on his front porch was scattered across my front lawn as if the Gods played a giant game of 52 pickup. I was the unlucky soul who had to pick them up. It seems that was the worst of the damage, so I considered us lucky just the same.
The rest of the morning was pretty normal. A flicker of the lights, a short cable outage and a walk down Front Street against 30-knot winds were all that was left of God's exhale. It felt almost like the morning after one of my Mom and my raging box wine-inspired battles, except there were no ashtrays to empty, and I didn't have a hangover. But the energy was the same.
God's wrath was on display last night, and that is what scared Buxton so much, I think. Like every good Alanon goer, you don't sleep when your Alcoholic is raging, so Jen and I are sleep-deprived today. Not that I think God was on a bender or anything, but She was clearly shaking out the dust and airing out Her lungs last night. And when God gets a head of steam blowing, you can feel it in the air and on the wind. And that is one of the reasons why I love the wind so much. It's a chance to feel God and see Her in all Her glory. You just hope She doesn't blow your life away, like She did for me in Hurricane Sandy and Florence.
But when She's done, the winds diminish, and She quietly returns to the treetops. The seas settle down and the last wisps of wind whip over the dunes, just as the tip of a bullwhip rings out behind the handler's head on the downward stroke. That is what I think of when I say Zephyr. It's all the power and the pain in the tiniest little breath of the breeze, just before the Lord takes in her next breath. It'll cut you if you're not careful and hurt like hell, but if you know how to handle it and give it some well-deserved respect, it can be a thing of beauty.
I love the wind.