Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wind

See?
Picture: www.wallpaperfo.com
The wind blows in Southern Alberta.
A lot.
And usually from the west.
Invariably, it’s hot and dry in summer.
But in winter, you get a selection. Either it’s cold and penetrating; or warm and very, very melty (my word).
This second wind, known as a Chinook, comes in from the west without warning, forming a great arch in the overhead cloud cover and raising the temperature forty degrees in an hour.
The people who make Southern Alberta their home have learned to live with the wind.
What else can you do?
The kids adapt at a very early age.
Case in point . . .
I was five and in grade one. That magical time when everything is . . . magical.
It was winter.
A warm Chinook had blown in during morning classes.
And we had been sent outside for recess.
Not an unusual combination of events.
We ran about the playground, moving with the wind, or trying to make headway against it.
Or huddling close to the school when we had had enough.
And that was when it happened.
And it was Kathy who did it.
Now, I will admit that Kathy was a slender little stick of a kid.
Wiry and athletic and just a tad daring.
But still, her action was life-changing.
She stood out in the wind, unzipped her coat, held the sides out and . . . leaned over.
And the wind held her there!
I am not making this up.
It held her there. At an angle.
Like a kite.
Ooooooooh!
The rest of us had to try it.
We had more or less success.
For some of the heavier kids, the wind wasn’t – quite – strong enough.
For the smaller, a little too strong. It could actually lift them off their feet or roll them over backward.
But for those of us somewhere in the middle, it was remarkable.
You almost felt as though you were flying!
After that, no one zipped their coats shut during a Chinook.
Instead, you used said coats – and that wind – to blow yourself wherever you wanted to go.
Extraordinary!
And world-altering!
I could see Kathy’s invention of cloth and wind being used for amazing things.
Like . . . pushing great vehicles.
Oddly enough, when I told my parents, they were less than enthusiastic.
And not at all willing to take me and Kathy’s invention immediately to the patent office.
Parents.
Pfff.
Moving forward . . .
The decades have gone by.
And still, whenever the wind blows, I think of Kathy.
And her coat.
And that clever mind that made such entertaining use of something that could have been so aggravating.
Sometimes, you can still catch me out in it.
The wind, I mean.
Holding my coat open.

And remembering . . . 

22 comments:

  1. I remember doing that! I think this activity transcends generations, because when is the wind ever going to go away?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. The kids now are just as clever as those before . . .

      Delete
  2. Ah yes, but would you now go the patent office with the idea of a big sail to push cars? Pffft... you too have become a grown-up. It happens to the best of us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Must be hard to know how to dress for the day :) Leaning into the wind sounds like an excellent way to turn a minus into a plus.

    On the east coast, we usually get Nor'easter winds full of cold and damp - not the kind of wind you open your coat for!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard of you Nor'easters! I think I'll keep my Chinooks! :)

      Delete
  4. Huh! Now I wonder what someone might call an invention like that. It has potential.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm. For floating with the breeze. Maybe a...I don't know...floater...thing? It just popped into my head.

      Delete
  5. I remember being buffetted around by the wind when I didn't want to. I also remember my earliest days of school when the sand blew from the unpaved streets and blasted your face until it was raw. At Heritage Acres in Pincher Creek they have a wind gauge. It's a 3/4 inch chain hanging from a pole. When the chain is straight out, it's too windy. Anything under 180 degrees is considered normal outside working conditions. And don't forget Waterton with the white caps in the toilet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! Southern Alberta. How I love thee!

      Delete
    2. I remember wind that whipped up dust and grit from the ground and it would sting any exposed skin until you felt like you were being skinned alive.

      Delete
  6. AH! the wind!
    I don't remember the "coat" part, but I do remember the "losing my carefully sprayed coif" part.
    Love,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Coifs! I never had to worry about that. I never combed it to start with . . .

      Delete
  7. That was a fun memory and a great post as usual. I am afraid I don't like wind much at all. Thanks for the smile again; you are so good at the stories.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, LeAnn! I'm so grateful that you spend part of your day with me. Blessings back!

      Delete
  8. Your words transported me: I could imagine myself there! The wind blows a lot here in Iowa too, but not quite like that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you visited! Come to Southern Alberta and see real wind! :)

      Delete
  9. First of all, we have wind in RI but nothing that strong. Holy cow! Second, what a fun and wonderful memory. Awesome. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jessica! It's funny how special these memories become, years later! I need to get back to RI for a visit. We loved it there!

      Delete
  10. I love the wind and will happily walk out and about while a gale is blowing, but if it is bowing rain in my face I'm not so happy about it. I stay in when the hot north-easterlies are blowing however, since they bring the pollens down from the north and centre and I almost can't breathe for the stuffiness in my sinuses.
    I'm probably going to think of Kathy and her coat for a long time, certainly every time there is a strong warm wind.

    ReplyDelete

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