October 1, 2009

Wind and Nebraska: a love story

Today I was reminded of perhaps the best thing about Cambodia: 100% humidity with no wind.

In Nebraska, wind doesn’t blow—it howls through even the smallest crack; it harangues innocent bystanders with blustery battery. The big sky of the plains provides no shelter from the violent air movement. Autumn in Kearney is like stepping in front of an industrial fan, a full-throttle jet engine, and a dehumidifier all at once. I’m being pushed, pulled and all together desiccated by the cursed wind gusts that scream down from Canada on a daily basis. The hair I spent the better part of an hour styling is now whipping around my face, sticking to my lipstick, and mostly blinding me as I lean into the wind, trying to get to class. By February, my knuckles are so cracked they are bleeding, and the rest of my skin has the texture of deer jerky, which by the way, is really tasty, and a great winter survival snack!

Wind has always puzzled me because I can’t see it. I can see what it does to other things, and I can feel it’s prickles on my face, but I can’t see it. I suppose there is some metaphor I could make here, about life and challenges, but I’ll let wind stand on its own today. From a meteorological standpoint, I suppose wind is nothing more than air moving towards areas of lower pressure. From a Nebraskan standpoint, the winds usually dictate what’s coming next. A warm southern wind means nice weather, westerly winds usually mean clear skies, north winds mean it’s gonna get real dang cold (“where’s my coat at?”), and easterly winds, well that’s probably a tornado, so you better run outside to see it. Nebraskans are like living farmer’s almanacs, storm chasers, and grammatical magicians all at once. Who else knows when the last October with less than an inch of snow was? Who else thinks the tornado sirens are a perfect soundtrack to Mother Nature’s version of “Twister”? And, who else can hang a preposition off of any sentence and be considered correct?

I love Nebraska, don’t get me wrong. But between the wind and the speech patterns, I’ve gotta move soon. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be back someday to find out where my proverbial coat is at.