Everyone knows it's Windy

Fri, 05/13/2022 - 10:15am

Story Location:
Block Island
New Shoreham, RI 02807
United States

Yes, it is a line from a song, a very old song, from the 1960s. It was cute and catchy and did not make a whole lot of sense. Unlike some of those tunes there is no “oh, that’s what they were saying” revelation when I read the lyrics. No, it’s just Windy.

It’s been windy, the hard, lasting wind from the northeast that feels out of season. It had to have been in the 1990’s that I was complaining to my uncle on the West Coast, the retired missile engineer who lived where he had since the late sixties, on a hillside overlooking the Pacific about one of these storms.

“Now you know they last three days,” he imparted before moving on to other family news. I felt I’d been reminded about full moons and sunsets, or the eternal seasonal changes in the beach, and now am always grateful for that comment when the blasts are so long.
I had to be on the mainland for a few days last week but was coming home Friday and was not paying much attention to the forecasts that so often change, the pronouncements that rarely prove true. The storm came, wind and rain, and when service was canceled after the first boat on Saturday I went back to see the National Weather Service was still predicting real wind through Tuesday.
Well, it’s Wednesday and while the boats are running, again, the darn wind is still blowing!
The rain did not return but as much as everyone does know, it is windy here. This is above and beyond as it has been for the past several years. We look around the country and see hurricanes and massive wildfires and more and more tornadoes and chains of earthquakes and last summer that crazy about 100-degrees heat in the Pacific Northwest and multiple blizzards across the country and it seems we’ve been spared.
I think I am older, my house is older - both true enough - then as a meeting wraps up I ask someone who is a few years younger than I but has always lived here, working construction, always cognizant of the elements, if it seems so to him, this greater wind, and he does not hesitate to confirm it is not my imagination.
And it is May, the sand should be flowing down from the dunes, carried on a southeast wind, building the east beach; instead it is lifted up to pour down the landward sides and spill into the pavilion parking lot just cleared. Monday was beautiful, blue-skied and sunny and I remembered I could walk out in the north pasture, slightly sheltered by the land from the relentless east wind. One of the horses was out on a jaunt with his rider but two remained, devouring the new grass, each appearing to have staked out his own plot. There is a path down the middle of the west end of the lot, one that reminds me of my father’s cows who always followed the same track, wearing out the vegetation. It is not more than a foot wide, as it was when the cows trod it, and smoothly worn.
I head for the gate between this and the farthest lot and notice pale granules on the hard earth and touch it to be sure it is sand. It has blown up from the narrow beach where the Clay Head Trail opens to the shore, pushed by the east wind across a narrow strip of land, over a pond, it has rolled over another lot, a little peninsula of a hill. It has slipped through the still-bare branches of the scrub trees that mark the boundary of the one-time orchard and drifted like low fog over this long north pasture with topography like a restless ocean rising and falling suddenly in green peace.

It is not a surprise, given this wind, but it is an amazement, this spot somewhere between a quarter and a half mile from the shore.

I may have missed the peak of the shad, between being away and the blasting wind. It is often in bloom at the start of May, around Financial Town Meeting, it was in full flower the year my first golden puppy came to visit - not live, just visit I told myself the way a child would tell a parent. He would have a certain name, if he came to live with me, then I looked out at the shad, the white in bloom, and at the pale fluffy creature and it was over. It was the first year I noticed the egret in the pond, now an expectation of spring, those great white wings gliding over the green fields. Or maybe the shad is very late this year.
The white boat was passing on the far side of the farm next door when I looked up to the east. It is on an expanded multiple trip schedule today, making up for the time lost to the storm.
We’ve gone three days without a boat before, and I wonder why it feels like more. Perhaps it is the oddity of a storm of running into another week, late Friday that wind icon on the weather app running from Saturday through Tuesday, or the expectation that the boat will run this time of year, or people’s ever-increasing mobility.
The question of how long have we gone without a boat brings qualified answers, one how to factor those times the winter boat occasionally landed at Payne’s when the wind from the northeast made it impossible to navigate the Old Harbor entrance. That a memory of the new Manitou, still operating as a side-loader while the stern-loading ramp at the landing was completed, sitting at that dock is close to 50 years old, makes it one I gladly push aside.
Then I see someone long gone from this place asking on social media if the boat still comes into the New Harbor in bad weather. Nice to see someone else remembers.