Photography keeps you on your toes. It enables you to always be on the lookout for that unexpected moment in time that will change in an instant. It forces you to focus on what’s right in front of you when you really intended to capture something else.
Such was my situation on the evening of Oct. 23, when we could view the beginning of a partial solar eclipse just before sunset. An Amish friend of mine, who is a real stargazer, invited me to watch the partial eclipse with him. I picked him up at his home near Charm, Ohio, and we drove a half mile up to the top of a ridge where a long limestone driveway wound down to an Amish farm. Three strands of barbed wire fence kept the livestock in the pasture west of the drive.
While we waited for the eclipse to begin, we tried to stay warm even though the sun shone brightly. Our ridge top viewing spot also exposed us to a persistent and chilly northwest wind. It was the combination of the sun’s slanting rays and the invisible wind that illuminated an amazing phenomenon. The sun exposed hundreds, if not thousands, of spider web strings that blew horizontally away from the barbed wire. Stitched to their barbed wire anchors, the strings glowed like silver thread in the setting sun.
I began clicking away. However, my first few shots were too close to the fence. The webs stretched out so far that they looked like scratches across the digital photo. I stepped to the left, and lowered the camera to capture my Photo of the Week, “Blowing in the wind.”
The cold and wet of winter and early spring seemed to be unrelenting. The constant breezes made already cold days seem even more so, and damper than they really were. It felt like the wind had blown nonstop since Thanksgiving.
To paraphrase John Heywood, who first penned the words in the 16th century, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” That’s the way I thought of the many persistent gales that delivered us storm after storm for four months.
We here in northeast Ohio have endured a variety of weather elements for too long. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice, fog, torrential rains, flooding, and bone chilling temperatures have all been part of our weather menu. However, it has been the relentless wind that has been the most bothersome. It made even a sunny spring day seem like February all over again.
Day after day the icy wind seemed to go right through you. It was that bad. As much as I love weather, I had about had it with the unyielding gales.
I am glad, however, that the wind does aid farmers by drying out the mushy soil so planting can begin. But I pity the many Amish farmers who have had to spread, plow, harrow, and plant in the endless blusters. They and their trusty draft horses had to be freezing.
There’s another hazard to wind. Wildfire danger increases when steady breezes dry out already brittle dormant foliage and grasses. That’s one reason why spring’s quenching rainfalls are so welcome, even if they are accompanied by nasty winds.
On a recent trip to visit friends in Leamington, Ontario, a steady wind buffeted our van on the trip north. Along the Ohio Turnpike we spotted a Bald Eagle soaring against the northwest wind over an open field in search of prey.
We discovered that the weather in Ontario, including the wind, hadn’t been any better than ours. Indeed, we wore sweaters and jackets during the extended weekend.
The only exception was our last day there, Monday, April 15. That day dawned in beauty and quiet. The sun shone brightly as we said goodbye to our friends.
By afternoon as we reentered the U.S., the wind had once again picked up. At least it helped push us homeward as we traveled.
I was glad to see the sun, and feel its welcome warmth. Perhaps the stubborn winter weather systems that brought the chilling blustery northwest winds had finally been broken.
Shortly after 4 p.m. I turned on the van’s radio to listen to the news. From the announcers’ demeanors we knew that something serious had happened, only neither my wife or I were clear as to what the problem was. As we listened, we learned of the bombings in Boston.
Like most good people of the world, we were horrified. It was an ill wind no good citizen could ever have anticipated.
Tolerating a persistent cold wind is one thing. Enduring a terrible, intentional act of violence is another concern altogether.
We must live our lives as best we can, embracing each new day with gusto, hope and a fearlessness that no harsh wind, natural or man-made, can destroy.