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Hiding from the Howling Winds

The trees in my neighborhood all seem 
to bend to the east. I wonder why that
could be? Photo by Susan Mark.

Two parts of a Wyoming winter make my mood falter.

The first are the weeks just before Winter Solstice, when the world's at its darkest and the days are still shortening. 

The second are the weeks when the wind won't let up. On Wednesday, the official high for the day in Cheyenne was 53 MPH sustained winds with 89 MPH gusts. From the west, of course. About 12 miles outside of town they recorded a 105 MPH gust. About 8:30, our lights flicked off and on a couple of times before staying off -- for five hours. 

I'm grateful for our solid stone house. On moderately windy days, we rarely hear it, and the wind never rattles the entire house like it did when we lived in a little clapboard. This storm, however, just howled, even our house unable to block it out.

If you are to live in Wyoming, you must make peace with the wind on some level. I walk in 20-30 MPH sustained often and have learned to face it. I walk my neighborhood north to south instead of east to west to cut down the time I'm facing into it. I walk the west side of the streets for what little additional shelter the houses provide.

Can't say for certain if they've propped up the fence because of
wind damage, but we've done that with our fence more than
once. Photo by Susan Mark.

There's no making peace with 89 MPH gusts, though. This is wind that knocks down fences and rips down tree branches. It leaves me feeling agitated and trapped if I stay inside and battered if I venture outside. The storm is a thing to be endured until it passes.

The pandemic has been a stiff wind in my face all year, with gusts of civil unrest knocking me off-balance. Yesterday, the wind picked up. We had distressing news from three different family members, three different issues. Deepening dementia. Mental health crisis. Hospitalization with pneumonia (mercifully not COVID). I'm agitated and wanting to hunker down away from it all.

I can't say I'll embrace these winds, but I can face them. They're not unendurable. 

I've seen enough Wyoming storms to know that some leave damage. Years of them leave cottonwoods bending, though still growing strong. But each storm passes and makes way for days of calm and sun.


  1. My dad had about five "wind in Wyoming" jokes that he rotated. I suppose the folks in the northwest U.S. have rain jokes. Arizona -- heat jokes. It's a survival strategy. But I'm with you, the wind lately has been unsettling. On the night you mentioned, I moved into the guest room in the basement because the noise is more muffled there. I thought the roof was going to come off!

    I've noticed that we rarely have to prune our trees, though. The wind does it for us.

    1. The self-pruning I think only works when said trees are not so close to the house or vehicle that they could fall on them. I will have to remember that basement guest room trick, although I'd have to clear the clutter off the bed. I have to say that with the power off and all the ambient lights that interrupt the night gone, I slept better

    2. I have to laugh when I drive up from Denver for a WWI Conference or WyoPoets workshop that north of Fort Collins, I wait for the wind to start. Usually about where the road makes a little bend through the hoodoos it starts. But the time I hit the state line, I'm holding the car on the road with some effort. I've seen semis on their side on those bridges south of Cheyenne on I-25 several times. And when headed to Casper, that drive from Cheyenne through Chugwater to Glendo before the interstate turns west can be tiring.

      I left Rawlins after helping my son move in there and on a clear Sunday morning headed east on I-80 hit a ground blizzard at Elk Mountain. Whoa! Scared of running off the road. Too scared to stop because of the trucks thundering through there, and after a long 30-minute stretch of driving blind, finally popped out again into a clear blue Sunday. I know why the wind farm is there.


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