Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Answer, My Friend, is Blowing In The Wind

(A Special Post for SundayScribblings)

What is the one thing that everyone acknowledges exists but can not be seen? Atheists, agnostics, Christians, Muslims, and peoples of all over the world will agree on one thing that has the most mystical and mythical of qualities. Evidence of it's hand surrounds us. We see trees near the ocean growing strangely at 45 degree angles. We see tens of thousands of cars left abandoned by the roadsides in Louisiana. Trailer parks from around the world beckon it's arrival.

Of course, it is the wind.

One of the wisest of men of all time, King Solomon, wrote an entire book of the Bible on the wind. Even if you are not of Christian bent, you could spend your time reading few pieces of literature more enriching than Ecclesiastes. It to be one shortest and one of the most accessible books of the Bible to read. Like any good piece of philosophy, it leaves you with as many questions as it does answers upon reading through it. "Everything under the sun is meaningless, like chasing the wind" Eccl 1:14. Solomon continually makes reference to the meaningless of the things that we do in life and uses "chasing the wind" as his simile at least five times in this brief but powerful work. Look around today and, in these times, realize that those who are dying senselessly in this world are in a better place. Also, in the true wisdom of Solomon, he draws a solid curtain of pessimism that invites the reader to push through to find the ultimate optimism.

Solomon allows the wind to blow us to his conclusion in Eccleasiastes 12:12, "But my child, be warned: there is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting! Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad."

As for the wind itself, here in the Sacramento Valley, we are blessed by a natural wind that floats up from San Francisco Bay and fights against the current of the Sacramento River and the Delta System that takes our water to the ocean. It is called the Delta Breeze. It is a blessing. It cools many of our hot summer nights and brings us respite from what would be many days of consistent oppressive heat.

The Hawaiian Islands are legendary and so pleasant because of the Tradewinds. The temperature of the surface of the ocean rarely changes. The constant breeze that blows across the ocean provides a natural evaporative cooling system that makes all of us yearn for the tropics. Sacramento and Hawaii are not the only places that pay homage to invisible. I deemed that a cut and paste from Wikipedia would be interesting to my readers around the world. Do you experience any of the below on a regular basis? Do you have your own that is not listed? I'd love to hear about it. Perhaps your own story about your relationship with the wind will be a future topic for SundayScribblings.

In ancient Greek mythology, the four winds were personified as gods, called the Anemoi. These included Boreas, Notos, Euros, and Zephyros. The Ancient Greeks also observed the seasonal change of the winds, as evidenced by the Tower of the Winds in Athens.
In modern usage, many local wind systems have their own names. For example:
  • Alizé (northeasterly across central Africa and the Caribbean)
  • Alizé Maritime (a wet, fresh northerly wind across west central Africa)
  • Amihan (northeasterly wind across the Philippines)
  • Bayamo (a violent wind on Cuba's southern coast)
  • Bora (northeasterly from eastern Europe to Italy)
  • Chinook (warm dry westerly off the Rocky Mountains)
  • Etesian (Greek name) or Meltemi (Turkish name) (northerly across Greece and Turkey)
  • Föhn (warm dry southerly off the northern side of the Alps and the North Italy)
  • Fremantle Doctor (afternoon sea breeze from the Indian Ocean which cools Perth, Western Australia during summer)
  • Gilavar (south wind in the Absheron Peninsula)
  • Gregale (northeasterly from Greece)
  • Habagat (southwesterly wind across the Philippines)
  • Harmattan (dry northerly wind across central Africa)
  • Halny (in northern Carpathians)
  • Khamsin (southeasterly from north Africa to the eastern Mediterranean)
  • Khazri (cold north wind in the Absheron Peninsula)
  • Kosava (strong and cold southeasterly season wind in Serbia)
  • Levanter (easterly through Strait of Gibraltar)
  • Libeccio (southwesterly towards Italy)
  • Marin (south-easterly from Mediterranean to France)
  • Mistral (cold northerly from central France and the Alps to Mediterranean)
  • Nor'easter (eastern United States)
  • Nor'wester (A wind that brings rain to the West Coast of New Zealand, and warm dry winds (and bad tempers for some) to the East Coast of New Zealand.)
  • Santa Ana winds (southern California)
  • Simoom (strong, dry, desert wind that blows in the Sahara, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and the desert of Arabia)
  • Sirocco (southerly from north Africa to southern Europe)
  • Southerly Buster (rapidly arriving low pressure cell that dramatically cools Sydney, Australia during summer)
  • Tramontane (cold northwesterly from the Pyrenees or northeasterly from the Alps to the Mediterranean, similar to Mistral)
  • Vendavel (westerly through Strait of Gibraltar)
  • Zonda wind (on the eastern slope of the Andes in Argentina)


Michelle said...

He must have been pretty down when he wrote that. I have always wondered about that book...

Today, wind is ruining Mexico's Independence Day...:-(

paris parfait said...

Fascinating piece - I've always liked the wind except in the midst of a sandstorm in the Middle East; when walking down Chicago's Michigan Avenue in a snowstorm and of course when winds turn deadly, such as in tornadoes and hurricanes. As for Solomon, I guess I'd never noticed the pessimism in that book.

Bug said...

Very interesting. I never thought much about wind until I read about the Santa Anna winds that affect CA (I think). I thought it was fascinated--just like your post! Here in Boston we don't get a particular wind, but I have heard that Boston is the windiest US city--windier than Chicago even. I can attest to the fact that in the winter, that wind is mighty strong.

Laini Taylor said...

Wow -- I'm thrilled with your choice of subject!! This is something I've been meaning to look up myself. The West Wind is a minor character in my first novel, and I expect other winds to make appearances in the sequal, which I am writing now, so this is really awesome information for me -- thank you!!

Stick it in your eyes said...

Interesting research, beautifully presented. The deltas have been blowing lately here in the valley, I feel and smell your inspiration.

Tracy said...

In Zaragoza, Spain, they have a very strong wind that blows through occassionally called "el cierzo". It is so strong that it if it is at your back, you feel it pushing you down the sidewalk. And if you're walking into, you literally have to lean into to the wind as you march onward.

Thank you for this post.

DonPare said...

We both had wind on the brain...

Amber said...

What a great post. You sure did do your research! I don't like windy weather that much, but I sure don't mind a nice breeze!


tinker said...

Thanks, Scott - We experience the Santa Ana's here, quite thoroughly, each year. It was interesting to find out they're really a fohn type of wind (and that the Europeans who experience this type of wind, actually have a name for the ill-humored behaviour it provokes!). I know I certainly don't look forward to its season, but now that I know what good it does for the oceanlife, I'll think of it a little more kindly, while battling to keep the doors closed.
Thanks for such an informative post and an interesting topic.

Verity said...

Fascinating piece on an enigmatic force. My favourite reference to the wind was in The English Patient, that conversation in the desert about all the words bedouins have to describe it.

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