Blown away by the blustery breezesPublished 10:30am Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Column: Tales from Exit 22
There are a great number of wind turbines where I live.
That might be a clue that I live in a windy place.
Or that I’m a windy guy. Both are true.
As windy as it is, I’m thinking that the wind turbines might be producing their own wind. It seems windier since their development. They are windy turbines.
The wind is relentless. One day, it was so strong, the local airport, Hartland International Airport and Septic Service, used a log chain for a windsock.
I try to take life one day at a time, but sometimes a week gangs up on me and I get a week’s worth of wind in a day.
I stopped at Fuel’s Paradise to empty my wallet. Before pumping gas for myself, I filled the tank of a car owned by a fellow who’d had a new hip installed. He claimed it to be the only part of him that was still under warranty. The wind troubled him. A calm day would be calming.
I had lunch in Rochester with a friend who had driven his motor home from Traverse City, Mich. He ordered meatloaf. I ordered a small sandwich. The meals arrived. I immediately wished I’d ordered the meatloaf. We talked of the weather. He told me that he got off the freeway because of excessive winds. The wind moved his motor home in directions it should not go and forced tractor/trailer rigs across centerlines. He brought his vehicle to a stop, heeding the Irish blessing, “May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you’re going, and the insight to know when you’re going too far.”
As I write this, I’m holding the American Wind Energy Association’s list of the windiest states. It’s a bit difficult to type while holding the list, but here it goes. The windiest state according to the AWEA is North Dakota with Texas second. The rest of the breezy top 10 in order are Kansas, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Iowa. Apparently, the list covers only the lower 48.
According to the National Climatic Data Center’s list of annual average wind speeds, the windiest U.S. city is Dodge City, Kan., with an average speed of 13.9 mph. Other windy cities include Amarillo, Texas (13.5 mph) and our neighbor Rochester (13.1 mph).
The average wind speed at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport is 10.4 mph, which is windier than the “windy city.” Chicago may carry that nickname, but its average annual wind speed is only 10.3 mph. Generally, the windiest parts of the U.S. are Alaska and the western plains east of the Rockies, but the spot with the highest winds in the U.S. is Mt. Washington, N.H., with an average speed of 35.4 mph. The National Weather Service shows the windiest locations in Alaska as St. Paul Island 17.4 mph, Cold Bay 16.9 mph, and Barter Island 13.2 mph.
Residents of sod houses on the prairie occasionally went insane with nothing to listen to but the wind. Desperate housewives of sod houses. I understood how that could occur as I sliced through the wind on my way to a meeting. As it happened, all the attendees were men. We talked about the robust wind and how it appeared determined to cleanse the world of any sign of humanity.
One guy interrupted our weather chat to insist that we get down to business because his wife expected him to be home right on time for dinner.
This declaration caused another man to snort, “In my house I’m the boss. I say when the meals are served, when the laundry is done, and when the dishes are washed. In my home, I’m in charge.”
I asked him how long he had been married.
The man replied, “Oh, I’m not married!”
It would be easy to be in charge of the weather if we didn’t have to live with it.
I have lived in Minnesota all my life. It has been windy all my life. That’s not likely to change. I try not to worry about the wind or other things I cannot change. I recall the words of Jonathan Kozol who wrote, “Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.” I’m never going to win a battle with the weather.
I watched a red-tailed hawk flying into the face of a strong wind. The raptor faced a challenge, but allowed the wind to lift it higher.
Not a bad idea.
Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.