GONE WITH THE WIND
Yesterday there was this relentless gale of wind. This morning, there were leaves and twigs strewn all over the garden. I think the trees all shed their dried up bits and pieces gleefully and are now standing in their lush green splendour. The bamboo thicket kept creaking ominously and swaying almost to the ground in a very threatening manner. We are down below in a valley, as the road leads downhill to our place. So, the wind whooshes down the slope and then has a whale of a time whirling all over in our little basin of land. Recently our satellite dish went whirling off our roof. It just thudded down into the garden. Imagine if it was whirled off in the air, I’m sure there would have been reports of a UFO sighting!
I immediately thought of one of my uncles who was abroad at the time, had sent my aunt here an aerogramme with this terse message, “Blow, blow, thou winter wind.” Now my aunt was a very simple lady, as you can judge by her favourite reading matter, which was fairy tales! I kid you not. So she showed this to us in puzzlement and asked us what on earth he had written, did we think he had taken leave of his senses? (That was not uncommon in our family; they were all totally batty and eccentric) So we had to suppress our giggles and say he must have been in a poetic mood since this was a quotation from Shakespeare. My mother, only slightly more well read than my aunt, (her favourite books were Agatha Christies, Barbara Cartlands!! and Earl Stanley Gardener.) immediately said, “My, how romantic, he’s writing poetry to you!” So my aunt was totally appeased and quite chuffed at the whole thing.
Later on we explained to our mum that the next few lines went something like thou art not so unkind as a human, or rude and ungrateful. We all had a good laugh as my aunt was famous for complaining about things and obviously he was irritated.
The other thing that sprang to mind was our school uniforms with its myriad of knife pleats. You can imagine we were able to run around freely unlike my children’s uniform a-line skirts which were rather restrictive. But most of us lived by the sea and our school also was adjoining the sea. So you can imagine the havoc on windy days, our skirts would fly up and cover our faces. We were forced to wear petticoats or vests and underskirts by the nuns. The fact that we wore bras and panties was a closely guarded secret never to be revealed to the general public! So luckily we would be shielded to some extent.
We usually carried our books by hand since it was not the ‘in’ thing to carry a schoolbag. So our hands would be full and we had to struggle to keep the darned skirts down, much to the hilarity of the school boys from the neighbouring schools. Lots of shapely legs were exposed unwillingly on windy days. Then I remembered also two poems we learned about the wind. One was “Who has seen the wind?” by Christina Rossetti and the other was by Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Wind” – I saw you toss the kites on high, And blow the birds about the sky….” The other poem by the same poet was “Windy Nights” which I found creepy as it speaks about a man galloping all over on a windy night, and the poet wonders why. Oh, lots of songs. For instance, Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind”, as well as “The Wind beneath my wings” by Bette Midler. Then I can’t also forget Mary Poppins, who arrived parachuted by her umbrella on a windy day to look after the Banks family. She told them she would stay until the wind changed, and she did exactly that, she opened her umbrella and sailed majestically away up into the sky. Oh, to be young and fanciful again! The nicest thing of all is that when it turns windy, the sky used to be dotted with colourful and inventive kites darting like quicksilver all over the sky. Even girls would be seen flying kites. Nowadays I think parents and kids are too busy to personally make kites or even have the time to fly them. But you do spot them sometimes at Galle Face Green and I know there is an annual Festival of Kites, so we can hope!
- Honky Tonk Woman