Missing the Chinook

Know first that I detest wind.

But yesterday's sodden nearspring snowstorm in Ottawa reminds me that I still miss Alberta's Chinook. Another name, Snow Eater, is disputed, but it's apt. A Chinook shrieking from its characteristic arched mouth of clouds on the western horizon devours snow. Somewhere into a third week of unrelenting hundred-kilometre winds, when your eyes fill with dry grit, you feel as if it gnaws your brain, too.

But I remember standing one year in a late January field, after weeks of singing, minus-thirty cold, feeling my lungs crack with each breath, when the crystallized air changed. The arch opened over the mountains, iciness suddenly softened.

I stood still, in stillness, feeling warmth begin to breathe around me for three-quarters of an hour. The temperature rose a degree a minute. The last moments, I could hear water starting to run under the snow. When the banshee wind finally pounced, the air temperature was well above zero.

I detest wind. But that dead of winter memory — less than an hour of moistening, warming, impossibly tropical stillness, is magic I hold close.

Image: Ann Kelliot's Photostream on Flickr


skylark said...

Mid-winter break...beautiful picture.

zoom said...

Lovely post Coyote. I only experienced one chinook in my life. It was a very long time ago, in a land far away, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

Magic wind.

Anonymous said...

We're missing the Chinook too, here in Chinook Country. It's been inordinately warm for the time of year, and usually when that happens the weather moves sideways at about 70k, on a calm day. Instead, lots of foggy mornings and still days, sometimes sunny sometimes not. It's been weeks since the zephyr gods fell asleep. Ssshhh! We don't want to wake them up!

coyote said...

I'll yap vewy, vewy quietly...