The power of wind is as varied as the descriptive names for it: Chinook, Trade winds, gale force, Sirocco, the North wind and simply, breezes.
We’ve all felt the sharp change when wind gusts appear right before a thunderstorm, bending trees and blowing lawn furniture. And we have felt the small joys when the wind softly rustles tree leaves or a summer breeze refreshingly sweeps by, and we turn our necks, left and right, to cool our faces a little more.
At its worst, wind has a destructive side such as when a tornado, hurricane or haboob forms. It also causes flight turbulence and intensification of wildfires. At its best, it provides power through windmills and turbines. It entertains as kites are lifted high and sailboats can scream across the water. It brings music through wind chimes.
As a literal force of nature, wind and peoples’ interaction with it has existed since men and women started walking the earth. I don’t have proof, but I suspect that illustrations of circular and horizontal lines still appear as part of ancient stories in ancient caves around the world.
I do know that there is a legend among the Shawnee nation of native Americans that Kako-u’hthé, translated to “Cyclone Man” was a powerful storm spirit. The tendrils of a tornado were believed to be the long hair of this spirit. Interestingly, the Shawnee did not fear Kako-u’hthé, but rather considered the spirit a friend and held no fear over the power of a tornado because their friend would never intentionally harm them.
Naïve, perhaps, but the point is that the movement of air is something with which we have an age-old relationship. Like water and fire, it’s been with us since the beginning.
So, I was interested when I learned a new description for wind. Uitwaaien. It is a Dutch word and philosophy for using wind to ease stress.
“Uitwaaien” (aut-vwl-en) means to go out in windy weather, particularly into nature or a park, as a means of refreshing oneself and clearing one’s mind…
…It “literally translates to ‘outblowing,’” explains Caitlin Meyer, a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam’s Department of Dutch Linguistics.
…“Uitwaaien is something you do to clear your mind and feel refreshed — out with the bad air, in with the good,” Caitlin tells Alice Fleerackers of Nautilus. Thomas Oppong Oct. 7 Medium.comThomas Oppong Oct.7 Medium.com
Although taking walks to feel emotionally and/or physically better is not a new concept, the Dutch seem to take it to a next level by recommending those walks be taken in specifically windy conditions.
I am drawn towards this concept. First, I love the idea that I can walk straight on into wind and receive bountiful fresh, healthy air in my lungs and that my mind will feel better (especially these days.) But it also touches on something else; some core memories and a bone-deep need to be a part of it.
I have many good feelings attached to wind. On windy days as a child, I would grab a paper towel and sensing a good gust, would jump from the top step of our home while tossing the paper towel upwards. Sometimes, the wind would pick it up like a kite and bounce it around far above me. It never lasted long before falling back onto the driveway or our neighbor’s lawn but it brought joy that something could take a paper towel from my hand and make it fly.
And I loved flying a kite in our local park with my own son when he was young. It was precious time spent together and maybe I hoped I was passing on knowledge and the sheer elemental joy that the nature of wind can bring. I also remember drives out to the country where I could see weather vanes at work. It was fascinating to me that the wind could show you it was blowing from the east or west with a simple turn of a metal rooster.
The above may be inadequate in describing why wind makes us feel the way we do, but the following songs show I’m not alone in my feelings. There are so many songs whose lyrics define wind or use it as an analogy, and the artists are infinitely better in conveying the poetic and nostalgic pull of it. Here are just a few:
Blowing in the Wind, Summer Breeze, Summer Wind, Dust in the Wind, Wind Beneath My Wings, Candle in the Wind, Colors of the Wind, She’s Like the Wind, They Call the Wind Maria and The Association’s 1967 classic “Windy.” They are just a modern way to continue sharing the ancient stories of connection and interaction.
“Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there, not a care in the world
See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen, food cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me, in the evening when the day is through
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”
– Seals & Crofts “Summer Breeze” 1972
“Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind” Kansas “Dust in the Wind” 1977
There was even a perfume in the 1970’s called “Wind Song” and the jingle was “He can’t seem to forget you, your Wind Song stays on his mind.” There is clearly no direct link between perfume and wind, but the marketers knew what they were doing. Humans are drawn to wind so “he” will undoubtedly be drawn to “you.”
I’m all in for Uitwaaien. If there is another reason to get me out into the wind, I will gladly do it; for health, adrenaline, and a welcome feeling.
The basic scientific definition of wind is the horizontal movement of air from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. The greater the difference in pressure, the faster the air flows.
It’s succinct and accurate, but don’t the words from “Blowin’ in the Wind” just sound better?
“Yes, ‘n’ how many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind” – Bob Dylan “Blowin’ in the Wind” 1963
Please feel free to share your own stories about wind below. I am also considering doing a limited series of wind stories by readers, depending on interest. If you have either a super short or longer story and are interested in being published on the blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome.
Wind Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com
Weather Vane Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com