Friday, March 3, proved to be a particularly blustery day in our area. True to the legend of it being the windy month, March put the “whoosh” in our world! Across the flat, broad, alluvial plain of Highcliff the winds picked up quite a clip. Though invisible itself, the effects of the turbulent winds could be seen from afar as timber, lining the banks of the Clear Fork River and the Mud Creek, rocked to the onrush of air.
When the winds, blowing level and straight, came to the foot of Pine Mountain, and ran into the abruptly upswept terrain, towering one-thousand feet over the valley floor, the fast-moving winds made the timber sing a disconcerting song on the mountain. Groans and pops could be heard above the steady howl of the winds as weaker limbs, maybe even some trees, snapped to the severe gale.
Out on our porch the wind chimes played some ferocious tunes, with two of them actually becoming airborne and ending up far away in the yard. Chair cushions and a big garbage can went twirling along, only to be stopped by the woven wire fence at our upper property line. Yvonne’s big dog Napoleon, scared of storms, retreated to my recliner and curled up like a ball. For whatever reason, my chair is a place of respite and comfort to him during storms. At no other time does “Nappy” ever give a care for my chair.
Just before dark, the winds dropped to a light or gentle breeze. The thick, gray, low-lying cloud cover became interspersed with the most brilliant patches of red, pink and orange. What a treat to the human eyes! The frogs in the swamps began to put up a chorus that was quite stunning as well. I really enjoyed watching the sky until the vibrant colors faded away in the darkness.
Right after that semi-calm period, the tail-end of the weather front moved out with a vengeance. The winds blew even harder than before, probably with violent storm intensity according to the Beaufort scale. Normally, high winds don’t bother me too much. But I was kind of concerned we were going to get some damage from a falling tree, or trees.
Then, just like flipping a light switch, the winds were gone, hushed, and stillness prevailed. I was amazed when I went back outside and gazed at the sky. Not a smidgen of cloud cover remained overhead. It had moved to the east of us and was far out of sight. I don’t think I had ever seen the stars, moon, and visible planets pop out any more clearly. It was truly amazing celestial viewing due to the freshly cleaned, weather-scrubbed atmosphere.
When I was a kid, Evel Knievel was a dude that had a kid’s attention. Evel was always revving up a motorcycle and jumping lines of school buses and such. He even attempted jumping the Grand Canyon once. Christmas catalogs were full of Evel Knievel toys.
Evel once said, mostly referring to times when he was airborne on two wheels, “I love the feeling of fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair.” That was generally followed by the feel of a hospital bed as he recuperated from broken bones upon returning to earth far too hard. I love the feel of a good breeze on my face as well. But when I start considering the dangers of a high wind event, I want the Creator to back off the throttle just a wee bit. Thankfully, that storm jumped right on out of here with no major damage.
Mark J. Tidwell is librarian in Jellico.