I listen to the wind as it pushes past the house, rattling windows and shaking shingles. The winds here are usually one of two kinds – the cold, arctic wind that comes out of the North, dangerous and biting, or the Chinook winds that come down from the mountains in the West, warm and dry, able to raise the temperature by 30 degrees in just a few hours.
I used to believe that the Chinook wind was a cosmic joke, designed to make one feel as though spring really would come again – someday. But now that I’ve been here a few years, I’ve come to appreciate the Chinook and the relief it brings from the seemingly endless cold winter days.
For anyone living East of Alberta, the Chinook winds that favor us here are the forerunner to the dreaded Alberta Clipper, a winter storm that forms when the warm Chinook winds meet a cold air mass. A fast-moving storm of bitter cold and high, gusting winds is created, getting caught up in the jet stream that blows Southeastward towards the Great Lakes, generally bringing a small amount of snow with it.
Out here on the prairie, there’s nothing between the wind and I except these four walls. There are no trees or buildings to buffer or block. The sound of the wind as it whistles, and wails is one I’ve come to associate with home. The wind drifts and sculpts and polishes the ample snow. Entire roads can disappear without warning.
The cat stands at the patio doors and meows. I open the door for her, but the winds are high. She sniffs the air and shudders, giving me a look of disdain. Somehow, even though she considers herself to be the higher life form, weather is under my control and the fact that I won’t change it for her is just rude. But never mind. In cold like this, the mice will come to her. There’s no real reason to go out to hunt. And if it gets too boring, there are always the dust bunnies under the bed. In the meantime, let the wind blow. She returns to the fire and stretches out before it, comfortable and warm in her fur coat.
Yes, the fire looks very inviting. And is that the smell of soup coming from the kitchen? No? Well, it will be in an hour.