As Lainie and I blew down the narrow wind-tunneled streets to Sunday's town square market, a few stalwart vendors foretold what we had suspected. When we extracted paper EURO bills from the ATM street machine, we carefully stashed our cash into a wallet. Struggling down the main street, we soon found refuge inside a local bakery. After purchasing a pair of baguettes, quiches, eclairs and the last remaining tarte tropezienne, we traipsed out into the bluster, only to be ushered down towards an empty courtyard. The mistral's 30-50 knot winds had indeed cancelled the annual La Garde Freinet village chestnut festival.
Sometime in 2006 Laine wrote the following description about her experience with a mistral while living in Provence, France.
"In Provence the wind can blow like crazy ... "mistral" it’s called coming from the Provencal mistrau, meaning master. It was once thought that crimes of passion were actually excused when mistral blew. It is mind-altering this wind, yet it blows away any clouds making the sky so blue … so very brilliant blue. The artists thrived on this light … the light of Provence.
Today a wind like this blows. It was blowing yesterday and the day before, too. Today’s wind is different though … stronger filling the day with a kind of urgency. There is a charge in the air. Yet I can’t put my finger on it … this wind … it just blows … hard, strong, gusts that move nature. The trees are bending back and forth like a stallion’s mane at full gallop. Last night my folded sun umbrella on the terrace in its very heavy metal stand blew over … like it was nothing.
Today if you had wings … you would be blown in a brief minute from this mountain village to the sea and beyond. The dear little swallows and swifts that normally come to swoop and swirl …eating breakfast, lunch, and diner in the sky over my house are somewhere else … probably tucked in … wings folded and safely waiting in their little hideaway … like me in my little nest of a home.
You could call this nature's’ way of clearing. Clearing the debris … the debris we can see and that which we can’t. The air is fresh and so pure here. It’s no wonder … impurities don’t stand a chance to linger in this environment. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I came here … a kind of purging. Clearing away cobwebs of my life. Not even sticky webs can stand up to this wind. Surely the cobwebs of my mind will get a workout today.
So what am I clearing I ask? What am I moving through my life? Old held-on-to beliefs, patterns, people, relationships that aren’t working … and why not? Have these things just run their course? And have I let go or are the strings that hold still tied? Tied in a way that makes it hard to release. Oh, Master Wind, help me break the ties that bind. Help me make the right choices in this clearing out time. And help me tie tighter the knots on those things that are right for me in this moment of my life. Yes, I know … I am so blessed to know, You..... Wind.
As I look out the French doors to the terrace and across the way to a hole in the neighbor's’ roof eve, I see a wee bird that somehow made her way out and back to her little family with a worm for diner. How she maneuvered in this wind is beyond me and yet she was driven by the force of her conviction to feed her babies. Isn’t that what we do? There’s a driving force inside that moves us … sometimes with intensity … like the mistral. Blowing us regardless this way and that. Teaching us to move on and move on through adversity as well … to hold tight to our beliefs. Then from time to time the Wind is soft, letting us rest a little to lie in the hammock of life … a hammock that cradles us all content and held. Yet are we not held all the time? At times I’ve walked out there during mistral and if you lean just so you can let the wind hold you. The force is amazing … and being held is also amazing. Today, as I do every day, I ask, You Master once again to hold me."