On a road with a windmill

The wind now battering our house has a name, according to the news, it is called Storm Freya. Had all the other storms that have battered the house over the years been given names, there would be few names left on the list.

“Do you remember the time the garage took off?” my mother asked.

I did. The wind had got under the doors of the asbestos-walled garage and the whole structure was lifting off the ground. No garage we ever had stayed empty long enough to accommodate a car, it would have been filled with all sorts of things for which there was no room in the house.

My father was working in Scotland at the time, “on detachment,” it was called. He was at Lossiemouth or Kinloss. one of those air stations on the Moray Firth where the wind came down from the Arctic to freeze the bones of those from deep in southern England.

“You’ll need to go for Mr Croot,” my mother had said. I had pedalled the few hundred yards to the old farmhouse where Mr Croot lived. A man of massive stature and massive strength, he was a man who knew what to do in every circumstance. He arrived with ropes and long metal stakes and a sledge hammer and secured the garage so firmly that the ropes and stakes remained its mainstay for a long time.

Living on a road that led to a windmill, we came to expect to expect that the wind would blow strongly sometimes. Gales like Storm Freya would come along from time to time. But gales would not have been of much use to a mill, what it needed was a persistent wind, a wind of a consistent strength, and it is the persistent wind that remains in my  memory much more than the occasional battering from a storm

Electric wires go down the road past our house and one of the lingering sounds of childhood is the mournful whine created by the wind as blew through the wires. It would usually be on days filled with dark clouds, or when moon and stars were obscured from sight, that the wind would begin its howl. On winter days, the air would be cold and few people would venture outside unless there was a reason to do so. Perhaps, if the mill had been operational, the whine of the wind would have announced the coming of people and traffic, as it is, it has remained the sound of a wintry days you wish would be quickly gone.




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