Do you know of the Mistral? It is a strong, high wind in the south of France that blows as winter melts into spring. I learned years and years ago that the Mistral was a legitimate defense in French courts. "The Mistral made me do it, your honour!" Considering the winds can travel as much as 90 kms an hour, it is not surprising that the rule of law would recognize a person might go temporarily insane because of it. How very Gallic to shrug one's shoulders and say "Eet was ze weend."
Extreme weather is exciting. I'm not eager to see people be hurt, of course, nor for there to be extensive property damage. And yet, copious amounts of rain, apocalyptic snow falls, blustering winds -- they all get the blood going. Weather in general is a powerful setter of moods. A blue-sky, sunny day sends the spirits lifting to heaven; gentle rain encourages nesting; the first snowfall brings on nostalgia. Ramp up the weather of the day, and the mood intensifies in equal measure.
My little nook of Sohoe tends to be windy, and is windy year-round. I'm nestled on the shores of a Great Lake and in the crook of The Ridge. A person better versed in such things could explain in scientific terms why it is this combination results in frequent and enthusiastic winds... I can only tell you it happens. Most days I welcome it, in all its moods, whether gently stirring the Sycamore branches and lazily toying with the layers of cloud overhead, or sweeping with gusto across the open water, fields and orchards.
Last week, however, we had three days of le Mistral-caliber wind and I felt sympathy for the first time for people who must live in the south of France. At first the fearsome wind is giddy-making and exciting. Then it gradually eases, without your noticing, into a hysteria-making madness. Too much! It was too much! At one point the gusts were so strong, so insistent I barely was able to open my car door. I envisioned being trapped inside the car for days, and wished I was one of those forward-thinking people who equip their vehicles with protein-dense snacks and bottles of water. And blankets. Thank goodness I always have a book to hand, or they would have found me curled up in the back seat, expired from the lack of literature. Fortunately, dear reader, lest you fear the worst happened (and I am writing from beyond this mortal coil) I managed to time my push against the door with a brief decline in wind velocity, and I quickly scurried to safety in the house.
The Mistral has passed us by. Sanity resumes. I am now quite content with gentle breezes.