The Winds of Change
Amazing weather abruptly changes in SE Kansas
THE WINDS OF CHANGE
By Kathy Novelli
In Napa, California (my hometown) each year, I’d always notice the change of seasons by feeling the intense, unusual winds as they blew through the valley. I’d tell my good friend Al each time that “this is the true change of season.” I knew, when those gusts began and continued for 3 to 4 days, that winter was making it’s last gasp and spring was, as is often mused, ‘just around the corner.’
As a child growing up in Browns Valley when it truly was a sprawling valley, I’d run to the front of our expansive lawn, to the street’s edge and crane my neck as far as I safely could to see if I could detect “spring.” There was a big curve along the front yard, which veered right obstructing a clear view of that corner. Try as I might, I was never able to determine just what spring actually looked like but, in my child’s imagination, I envisioned a huge spring, coiled and ready to pounce on the unsuspecting; just out of sight but soon to magically appear. I do remember the smell of the freshness in the air, the newly mowed lawns (yes! this is a wonderful scent) and the sights and sounds of people awakening from the cold winter; active in their yards, out and about. It was an exciting and expectant time; a “thrill” was in the air and I felt it throughout my entire being.
In Elk City, Kansas, (my new home) spring has passed the corner and arrived full steam ahead. The winds are howling but, unlike those telltale winds of my childhood and recent past, these blasts are ever present; roaring and shaking the limbs of huge maple trees, lifting swirling leaves up from the earth high into the sky. Now, the gales which wash over the open prairie eclipse all sounds as they whip the bare tree limbs and rumble through barns and open pasture buildings, sounding as if they’ll dismantle everything in their path.
But, be ever vigilant, grasshopper; always beware, newly transplanted and naïve Californians! As surely as seasons change; they can abruptly change back, here in SE Kansas. Expect the unexpected!
As quickly as the wind picks up out in the plains, so do the seasons change (and change back, again!). Last week, we were freezing; home bound with severe cases of cabin fever. Today, all screened doors and windows are wide open to let in the refreshing, warm spring air.
Or, as has happened on more than one occasion; one might find oneself sitting outside on the large front porch, reading a favorite author when, suddenly, without a second’s warning, a huge rush of warm wind sweeps through the property, lifting dried leaves and dislodging small branches from high tree tops. I am awestruck, and I find myself enjoying the power of nature…nothing compares.
And, in the blink of an eye, spring is here! New, fresh pale green leaves on limbs and branches peek from their dormant sleep. And, soon, flowering tree buds are about to burst! We have redbud, wild cherry, apple, peach, pear, plum and unknown dicidious trees about to cut loose. The yard, at this time of year, is a sea of color. Iris, tulips, daffodils, and more burst open, displaying many shades of yellow and orange. Native wildflowers have begun to emerge and soon, the fields will be awash in a sea of yellows, oranges, red, purple and violet in huge swaths of vibrancy. Our northern yard is a carpet of purple easily visible as you approach the house and beautifully displayed as I look down from the upstairs bedrooms.
It all happens so suddenly, as if spring can’t wait. I wonder if this is where the term “spring has sprung” first began. It fits.
Then, just as swiftly as it began, the blowing stops and all is quiet; still. Hours pass with not a single waft of air; no movement in the tree tops; not a sound.
The local "saying" goes something like this: “If you don’t like the weather….wait 5 minutes…”
And so it is. Suddenly, a new wind kicks up from another direction; this time from the north. It is noticeably colder and has a definite bite. Within a half hour’s time, the temperature has dropped 20 degrees, forcing us to run inside to grab coats, scarves, hats and gloves. The upper lows and lower highs are doing a cosmic dance above our heads, inflicting all types of havoc on our spring celebrations causing us to run with our coffee and waffles to cover and the wood burning miracle. The cold chills to the bone and just like that, we’re back to winter.
And we are back to doing our best imitations of the Michelin Man. Layer upon layer of clothing are donned. Sweat shirts, long sleeved tees, windbreakers and faux fur lined jackets with hoods! HOODYS! I couldn’t survive here without them! And scarves, wrapped around and around my neck and tied securely in front, tucked into my clothing. Lots of gloves, too. I always wear two pair; one a synthetic fiber designed to ward off moisture and the other constructed of thick, woolen fabric for warmth. When the entire ensemble is arranged, it is impossible to tell if the wearer is male or female, thin or robust, junior or senior. All semblance of identity cedes to necessity.
Unlike California, you DO need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Because, it changes all the time and only the weather channel knows for sure.
We’re awaiting thunderstorm season. And we feel like ‘seasoned veterans.’ Last year, our weather radio went off and we scurried to batten down the hatches and secure the doors, windows, cats and ourselves. Each warning alarm sent us running for cover, fearing for our very lives.
Now, old ‘hats’ that we are, we aren’t quite as frightened as before. Aware, yes, but now we, at least, are functional.
There is never a dull moment here. And soon, as the weather grows and remains warmer, we anticipate the emergence of……The Night Spiders………………………