I went for a walk to the park today. It was windy. The sun was playing hide and seek behind dark clouds. I got to thinking about the wind. I have a love-hate relationship with it. It all goes back to the Columbus Day storm of October 1963.
I grew up in a two story house that was build around 1920. It had high beamed ceilings, craftsman style wainscoting and built in cabinets. Over the years, the original wood had been painted over but my mother painted the beams brown.
The upstairs had two bedrooms. My bedroom was in the rear of the house. It was a large bedroom, actually two rooms. The second room was a sun room that had been built out beyond the original house. One summer my mother remodeled the room. She painted it a cheery yellow, purchased some multicolor yellow, gold and white shag carpeting and hung royal blue narrow single wale corduroy café curtains. I never realized until later that I grew with the colors of Provence.
The sun room portion was lined with large casement windows that opened out. It was lovely sleeping in the room in the spring. The summer was also beautiful because you could open the windows and the delta breeze would gently blow the blue curtains.
But room was also the source of many nighttime terrors. If I left the curtains open, I would often imagine faces in the windows. There was a door leading down stairs to the basement. I would imagine hearing footsteps coming up the stairs and imagine monsters.
It was the night of the Columbus Day storm that resulted in my fear of the wind. The storm had been building during the evening and the wind was increasing when I went to bed. Outside the windows on one side of the house was a large pepper tree. It curved at the top and the long narrow leaves would look like fingers or witches hair in the wind.
The casement windows swelled over the years and became hard to completely close and latch. We would latch them with one of those hooks that were used on screen doors. Wind would blow and rattle the windows until they would fly open. It was 1am and my parents were fast asleep. I laid there watching the curtains blow and whip in the wind. The tree was backlit by the lightening. I had to will myself to get up and close the windows. They were waist high and I had to bend out to reach the windows to pull them close. The wind blowing and rainy, I found it so scary leaning out the second story window to close it.
I would get them closed and tuck myself back into bed, my ears straining to hear every sound, and they would blow open again. I gathered my courage again and got up to turn on the light. Just as it went on, a clap of thunder broke and the light flashed off. I was back in the dark. I needed to close the windows from the wind and rain so I walked over, leaned out and just as I touched the windows, lightening struck behind the house. The thunder crashed, I jumped and I ran to the living room. I hovered in the corner of the couch not wanting to move. But my parents heard me and came to my rescue. My mother pulled the windows shut and latched them. I finally crawled back into bed .
To this day, windy days do bring back the memory of fear from that night. I wouldn’t walk in the wind for many years. One year we went to Costa Rica and a wind storm came in early in the afternoon. The group had planned a walk that night to find turtles. It was possible to see these huge turtle coming ashore to lay their eggs. I couldn’t get myself to go. I stayed back in the room while G and the others went out by flashlight. I hovered in the bed as the wind came in under the door wondering and worrying. For G, it was one of the highlights of his life. They saw a leather back turtle come ashore and lay her eggs in a sandy hole before crawling back to the sea. The wonder of survival and I missed it due to the fear.
More and more, I have gotten over the fear. Now I find it exciting and invigorating. I feel full of life standing in a blustery wind storm. But deep down, that night still haunts me.