Winds of change

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer November 25, 2011 04:09 pm
In Cove, around Thanksgiving time, we use a blacksmith’s anvil for a wind chime and an arbor for a wind gauge.

Here’s how it works. If the wind is blowing 60 mph or stronger, the unanchored log arbor, which originally guest-starred in my 9-10-11 wedding, will topple into the house and dent the rain gutter down spout. If the wind is blowing less than 60 mph, the arbor will stay upright.

The wind has been blowing a lot lately. Every once in a while you’ll see somebody’s Thanksgiving feast get loose. A butterball turkey will roll by, chased by a yam or two, loose marshmallows, olives and a flock of cranberries.

The Northeast Oregon wind is like a European worker. It takes the summer off and then makes up for it from November through April ready to open a can of whoop-’em.

The winds of change have been blowing a lot lately too. Prices rise. Wages stay frozen. New, unfamiliar faces show up at work. Old, familiar faces find other challenges.

As we get older, change is harder to adapt to, but adapt we must. The only constant is change.

Mother Nature is also constantly changing her mood. She flexes her muscles this time of year. Clouds used to surfing thermal currents over the summer are suddenly scuttling from one end of the Grande Ronde Valley to the other as if surfing a tsunami. Watching clouds race by is like watching a NASCAR race — enough to give the viewer whiplash.

Jagged Vs of Canada geese get blown off course. They end up in ponds near Summerville, unaware of that town’s reputation for winter snowdrifts.

The wind around Thanksgiving shakes up small town Oregon. It’s enough to blow the sleepy right of out a community, the lethargy out of a daydream, the grinding out of boredom.

Some nights the wind howls like a love-sick coyote — almost drowning out the train whistles.

The Cove wind, where I live, is particularly odd. Sometimes it rolls down the front range of the Wallowa Mountains, slams into the Moss Springs pass and then boomerangs back toward Cove. The boomerang seems to increase the wind’s momentum. Once, about 15 years ago, just such a wind had enough power to clip off a fence post at its base. Sure, the fence post was rotten, but still ...

The wind can give us anxiety, as can change, but wind also can give us power. We can choose to enjoy the scouring wind, especially if we are together at Thanksgiving with family and friends.

If a butterball turkey happens to roll by outside the kitchen window, propelled by the wind, don’t be surprised.

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