Oh, the wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And I was born the next of kin
The next of kin to the wayward wind
This morning a low and uninvited music invades the corner of my living room I have liberated to be my writing place. It is the low- to- the- ground Western wind, rising and falling in a soliloquy to winter.
The wind invades my apartment through the air conditioner I still–although it is late January– have not covered with a piece of plastic sheeting.
I sip hot French Roast coffee with canned milk and plenty of sugar. I have set my mind on writing one post a day, like plein air painters paint one small painting daily to push on and improve their technique.
I am distracted by the mourning of the wind when it becomes trapped in the corner where my brick apartment in our fourplex meets the corner of my neighbor’s home. I am reaching for a way in, first words, and the wind caresses my ankles.
Finally, to companion myself against the wind, I begin to play the Bach B Minor Mass. “Credo, credo in unum deum,” the choir magnificently sings, hitting every melisma in blissful harmony; I can see Robert Shaw with his baton, pointing at the tenors: “Now, give it to me.”
I can see him look tenderly at the sopranos, smile, and barely flick the baton at the entrance point in a spectacular textured riff that is quintessential Bach.
Beneath the Mass, countering the precise, joyous singing, persists the moodiness of the wind. Perhaps it is reminding me of what seemed interminable years of lying in my bed in my small lemon yellow room in our adobe house in Albuquerque.
In those days, the wind was my companion. Its music would prompt me to go to my bookcase and pull out Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verse. I would lie back down, nestling into my pillows and open the book. The wind would peer over my shoulder at the page, gusting through the cracks in the caulking around the window to the north. The adobe walls would cool from the caresses of the wind; I would keep reading: I would first read “I should like to rise and go/where the golden apples grow”, opening the book wide to savor the shimmering lines of poetry, losing myself in the illustration: a green and gold and blue drawing of the Nile River Valley, with little tents, camels tied outside, miniature sheiks on exquisitely formed horses, galloping in place from the page.
The wind would lift my hair while I read “The Owl and the Pussycat put out to sea….”
These were the days before I had a small new brother whose diapers it was my job to inspect hourly, reporting any emergency thereto, trotting out to the kitchen to be handed a warm bottle of formula, back again, lowering the slatted gate of his crib and plugging his small mouth with a red rubber nipple.
These were the days before my parents conceded to themselves and one another that I was very lonely, and on my sixth birthday, led me to the swinging kitchen door, where I could hear a tentative scratching: I opened it, and there stood a tiny black and white puppy with liquid brown eyes, displaced, frightened, tail wagging furiously, looking up at me.
While I read, trying to lose myself in the pages of A Child’s Garden of Verse, the wind would pick up the pace, puffing up my sheer dusty curtains, lifting the gingham skirt around my great grandmother’s bird’s eye maple dresser.
Finally, I would acquiesce to the wind. I would get up, and put away my book, and straighten up my bed. I would put on my small pair of cowgirl boots, and get my Western hat out of the closet, securing it with a strap. I would reach for my stick-horse where it stood in the corner of my room– a branch my father, a forester, had found on one of his many trips into the mountains; this find had at one end the perfectly and distinctly formed muzzle, head and ears of a pony.
By then I would hear another sound in our house. I would hear the rise and fall of an angry woman’s voice, a voice rendered unintelligible by slurred speech. The crash of a scotch glass against the wall would be my exit cue.
I would slip out the back door into our patio in my regalia, with my stick horse. I would quietly open the back patio blue pine gate, mount my horse, and set out, tasting freedom.
I would face straight into the wind, sand stinging my my eyes. I would ride into forbidden territory– a strip of dirt road behind our house that divided the adobes on Rio Grande Boulevard from what my mother termed “the Spanish American neighborhood.” I could hear laughter and music from that neighborhood but I would keep on, on the way to the irrigation ditch running through the copse of ancient cottonwoods that lay ahead.
The wind would follow me, pleased to have company. It would tease me, lifting my hat. I would hum “Don’t fence me in….” riding to elude loneliness, toward the adventures longed for by my child’s heart.
I have not managed to elude loneliness, although fifty odd years have passed, even though my beautiful Golden Tess lies next to me, even though the choir rapturiously sings “Pleni sunt coeli…” The heavens are full of thy glory.
I pull on my grey sweat pants, locate my brown mohair beret, grab my car keys and with Tess, go out in the walker to my steed, my beaten up Ford Ranger pick-up. I should like now to rise and go, where the golden apples grow….perhaps along the way out to the country for a drive I will see a child riding along the road on an imaginary horse, and she will be lost in some reverie, turning her small face to me.
I had a stick horse, too, but it had a sock head 🙂
I hope you do something with these stories. I sure love reading them, even though sometimes they bring twinges of pain. I believe very few people get through childhood without scars of one sort or another. But they help make us who we are, shaping our character (or making us characters!) along the way.
Thanks for the prompt to write. I had off today and am enjoying the freedom. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much that I think I’ll go take a nap! And seeing as I always dream, I shouldn’t be surprised if they are interspersed with horses of every type! 🙂 ~p