As the March winds blow away and bring the promise of April showers and May flowers, I have been musing about the charm and poetry of the names of winds and their import. Of the few that I know: “Mistral,” a stormy, cold wind that blows through Provence in Southern France; “Sirocco,” a fierce wind that whips dust and sand from North Africa all the way to Europe (remember, “Lawrence of Arabia” and the desolate, dry wind pervading the mood of the movie) ; Chinook, a moist, heated wind that descends on the Rocky Mountains, melting snow in a matter of minutes; Hawk, the breezy Chicago wind that soars through Lake Michigan; and to us Southern Californians, our infamous “Santa Ana” winds, that deluge us with hot dry air that swoops over the desert mountains, blasting heat, breathing wildfire, nicknamed, “murder wind.”
Winds have a rich history, distinctive with personalities, appearing in science, mythology and literature. After all, remember that Aeolus, one of the three Greek gods of the wind, gave Odysseus a tightly closed bag of wind to open when needed to sail him quickly home to Ithaca. To his dismay, the sailors on his ship thought the bag contained gold and riches and burst open the bag in a rush of greed. The winds quickly dispersed and Odysseus was doomed to travel for many more years. Oh, the folly of us mortal fools!
Intrigued by the force and magic of wind and by an obsession with “wind through my windows,” I searched for more winds, as to name a thing is to capture a bit of its essence.
Can you believe that I found over 150 wind names, each with its own forte and flavor. The names alone evoke romance and fascination. Here are some of my favorites:
Squamish: A strong, violent wind that blows across the fjords in British Columbia in Canada.
Khamsin: A hot, dry Saharian wind.
Haboob: A stormy wind followed by rain.
Matacabras: A Spanish mean wind that “kills goats.”
Landlash: A severe Scottish gale wind.
Coho: A cold, heavy wind off of Greenland and Antarctica.
Chocolatero: A Mexican gulf coast squall, colored by brown dust.
Bali: A forceful East wind in Java, and of course, a brand of beautiful window treatments.
Dust Devil: A circling updraft wind, dispersing dust in a swirl.
Loo: A strong, hot summer wind in India.
Etesian: A cool, summer Mediterranean wind.
Kohilo: A Hawaiian gentle breeze- Jimmy Buffet take me away!
These are just a smattering of different winds, each carrying a local story and feeling which connect us to much more than the weather. Perhaps, that is why the wind, fluttering, raging, storming, wafting, floating and swooshing through our windows fascinates me.
I also think of the many windows covered in shutters that have been banged up and destroyed by hurricane winds, awnings trampled and sucked up by tornado winds, shards of glass on windowsills broken by gales and loos.
But as April surprises us with a verdant Spring, I dream of sheer window treatments, gently swaying and floating as soft breezes sail through the windows in our homes.
We shed the leaden layers of winter and long for something brighter and lighter.