It’s 4 am and I’m standing in the middle of my back yard. The wind is sweeping across the empty fields. I can hear it rushing along beyond the blue spruce trees that mark the divide between the fields and the yard. I can’t see the trees clearly but I can feel them towering above. Overhead the moon fades in and out of sight, just visible and then bright, behind and in the breaks of the ragged swathes of misty clouds that race across the sky. The moon is framed by a rainbow-hued corona. The flow of the clouds creates the illusion that the moon is moving quickly across the sky. An arm’s reach downwind there’s a bright shimmer, a planet I think. It’s ever so bright (perhaps it’s Jupiter, Jupiter is supposed to be visible this time of year) and so close to the moon that they appear to be moving together. It’s as if the smaller body is pulling the moon across the sky. The illusion is so perfect, their light so clear and close, that I half expect them to sail right over my head, brushing the tops of the trees before they disappear into the blackness of the fields. I’d like to wait and see (just in case) but the dogs don’t like the wind at night. They hear things in the wind, and because they can’t see, it makes them nervous. Maybe I hear things too but only just a little. And the wind is cold; it’s December. And I’m almost positive the moon and Jupiter aren’t sailing away wildly on the wind. So in the house we go.
On windy days, when the sky is full of restless clouds, a dark bruise crowns the line of pines and winter bare branches that mark the shore. A purple watercolour blush, it bleeds up into an endless firmament where the cold gusts and driven clouds devour it whole.
It would be easy to believe that January and February are only made of driven snow and biting winds if winter did not throw us a bone of a sunny day here while the earth sleeps.
The rare sun in a cornflower blue sky festooned with puffs of giant clouds that swim through the air like white vaporous whales is brilliant. The light of sun and sky and snow dazzles so that the eye can weep tears of joy or discomfort.
Those days never last. What dawns bright is shaded by evening. Over night Old Man Winter howls around the house shaking the foundation and scratching at the walls with tree branches, ice stiff and brittle. Often the new day finds another layer of white covering the fields and trees.
Down on the shore the waves continue their ceaseless motion, building up layer upon layer of ice. The spray rises in the air, misting fingers of beach tossed driftwood and creating bridges that reach far out into the lake. Round floes bob up and down in the surf, concave saucers formed by the motion of the water and fickle heat of a winter sun.
Against the skies of blue grey, black vees describe the geometry of flight. The croaks of jays and the peeps of chickadees are hushed by a flash of the hunting hawk’s red tail feathers. Only the mourning doves call soft and low in the cold winter light.
The Guelder Rose is green now in the final month of summer. The wind has swept up the blossoms and scattered them away like delicate flakes of summer snow. There beneath the Guelder’s green boughs, a small form lays quiet and still. Sodden and dark from the morning rain, the first hint of colour is muddied on the breast. The head reclines, one eye hidden, the other open to the sky. The gelid orb has frosted over a pale imitation of a ripening blueberry and a sudden glint of movement creates a startling illusion of life. Closer inspection reveals an ant making its way along the edge of the convex curve of that soft jewel.
The wind rustles the trees mimicking the patter of rain as the leaves brush against each other in the dark. The moonlight spreads across the night sky rippling the dark like sunlight on water. It leaks through the depths to find the hidden world below. The clouds are islands floating free overhead, the bottoms dark and the tops awash in platinum halos.
The rain and the insects have done their work, emptying out the fallen. The blueberry frost has been replaced by the vacuum of a blank socket stark against the white of bone. The delicate spine articulates a gentle curve of ivory jewels cradled in the soft bower of discarded feathers.
The terns glide across the surface and then hang over the water watching the waves below. Hurtling down they disappear beneath the green and then rise up, orange beaks full of flashing opalescent scales. A rust and green length of dead carp kisses the shore. The round hollow above the gill fills with the wash and weeps Erie’s tears as clasped in her bosom it gently rocks to an eternal sleep. Scatterings of diamond fossils, frozen in stone, line the path between here and there.
The waves hurry on towards the shore, cresting above the plane animating the grey expanse. Breaking on the rim, they breathe, expand and begin anew. Sinking into the sand, flowing back into the rhythm, forward under the cliff side and up into the air they change yet remain the same.
The weight of the night pushes down like a giant hand compressing the air until it bleeds moisture, soaking the grass and sinking into the flattened earth. There is no wind and the emptiness that surrounds me is so saturated that I could be moving through warm bathwater, gelid and thick. It swirls around my legs and sinks back with barely a ripple to mark my passage. The air tastes of copper and in the distance the sky blazes a violent flicker. Eerie and silent, there is no roll of thunder. The storm is still too far away. It’s coming though and I wait, watching the distant horizon split open. There are glimpses of a false burning day before rapidly winding threads of dark rush in to re-knit the tears. The wheat undulates a silken whisper. An echo of thunder rolls into a roar and the sudden wind is like a wild dog let loose to savage the fields. The wheat cowers. The limbs of the trees thrash in confusion and the leaves hiss out their bruising. Like the surge of a great wave the storm crests the yard. The current pushes against the damp heat and then with a great heave washes it away. All that remains is the wind and finally the rain. In the dark it does not seem to fall from the sky but rise up from the earth seeping through the concrete of the patio in silver dollar sized drops of dark grey blood.
The wind is full of a coward’s bravado. The downdraft worries the snow into drifts and hollows as it struts and swaggers about lording it over the yard. Ever the playground bully, it browbeats the trees and pushes the last of the leaves to and fro above the white risers. Caught by surprise the icy draught stops, startled, upon hearing a distant rumble. Suddenly uncertain the frightened tempest turns tail to seek out a haven, safe from the looming unknown.
All reason and sanity is cast aside as the cowed current rattles the windows and bangs on the doors to be let in. The ground trembles while the air grows heavy with a monstrous clamour. A metal juggernaut in shades of grey and gold, crowned by a sapphire gem, looms up through the sleeting white. Head down, its blind passage sends sprays of snow rising like crystal rainbows to shine in the wintry sun. Metal meets asphalt and sparks arc out to the side as its horn tears up the hoarfrost covered obsidian. The wind whimpers and cringes round the foundation, head down and eyes averted. The dissonance reaches a tumultuous summit only to fade away as terror lumbers off to devour the land further down the road.
Danger passed, the wind emerges to take up its bluff and bully. Swaggering about the yard the frozen bluster kicks the drifts and hectors the trees but keeps an listening ear pricked up just in case.
The wind is never ending, roaring and crashing, pounding like waves on a distant beach. Invisible surf whips the trees into a frenzied dance silhouetted dark against the endless sky. Points of light flicker in a wild syncopation keeping time with the feral music of the heavens. The moon clad in rainbow corona sits a distant wallflower flanked by stalwart Mars and fickle Venus. The primitive rhythm, savage and free, is a reminder of the scope of all mankind’s rule and order. Egos laid to waste, minute and storm tossed we ride the crests and flounder in the wells unmarked by a massive ocean of ferocious time and chaotic tide. Indian summer seems a distant memory. The ungentle dogs of autumn have come to savage the land.
Feral and wild they travel in packs baying out a requiem for the passing year. Delicate shades of crimson and gold burn and wither in icy fires of frenzied onslaught. The bare limbs of naked trees bower a funeral pyre built up of corpulence, rain and wind. Ashy snow will cradle the ember, hidden safe from grey bloodied jowls and cold snapping teeth. The lullaby of winter will wipe the tears away. In sweet slumber wounds will heal and scars will fade until the light of spring rouses the sleeper. The warming earth will fan the flames and the phoenix will rise fecund and strong to take to the air once again.
We are a small glimmer in the shadows of giants.
Drunk with its own power and full of bully and bluster Sunday’s wind staggered across the fields bumping into barns shaking foundations and pulling off shingles. It ravaged the trees with clumsy hands ripping the delicate fabric of their leaves and stripping the branches to leave them bruised and naked to the sky. Monday dawned clear on the hangover left behind. The old apple tree, cleaved once again, stands divided. A broken limb, moss pocked and hoary, lies crushed and broken upon the piles of leafy lace. The white of wet wood bleeds resin. The feathered crown of blue spruce is laid low, torn from a usurped giant too large to hide from the wind’s fury. The echoes of violence, though pale, still linger while all about the birds peek cautious heads out looking for the all clear.
The wind has finally come sweeping the heat and moisture away. The pine trees that divide the yard from the farmer’s field sway back and forth. Their tops bob a hundred feet above watching the wind scurry across the lawn. The wind whips around the house. It flies underneath the guelder-rose shaking the branches like a dog shakes a bone. Delicate balls of blossoms scatter. A white spray of petals fly through the air like flakes of snow in November.