Friday, February 17, 2006

Goddess of the Winds

Somewhere in the Twilight Zone, Rod Serling was laughing his ass off.

I had this idea to categorize headwinds and I wrote about it yesterday. Here are the categories:

Light: Just enough wind to feel the extra strain in the legs, but not quite enough to feel that it’s slowing you down. Leaves swirl in the wind.

Moderate: The wind is noticeably harder to ride into, yet it’s not taxing. Leaves fly along in a straight line.

Stiff: Like riding up a long, steep hill, without the side benefit of going down the far side. The leaves, well, who watches leaves when they’re breathing this hard?

Ferocious: Vicious, nasty wind that feels like riding into clear Jell-O. Strong enough to lean on in cross wind situations. Stay alert for flying lawn furniture.

And, like I said, I was toying with the idea of doing a piece on the Goddess of All the Headwinds since headwinds are often arbitrary, capricious, and entirely irrational. Let’s just say that my morning has been more than a little bit weird.

I left early, before dawn, and rode through the pecan grove in complete darkness. There was enough cloud cover to block even the moonlight. It’s dark in that valley, and the trees towering over the road make it seem much darker. My little battery-powered headlight didn’t do much to overcome the gloom.

I could have sworn I heard a giggle off in the woods. A sudden wind gust hit and I swerved directly into a pothole. I smacked the pavement hard and saw stars as my helmet contacted the concrete.

When I opened my eyes, I found myself in a strange room. Light seemed to come from everywhere but there was no discernable source. There was no furniture, no windows or doors, not even any walls that I could see, just light coming from everywhere and a gentle breeze as if a nearby window was open.

Someone giggled softly. I turned around and there stood a woman dressed in an evening gown, her hair a shoulder length tangle of curls. “I am Mariah” she said, “Goddess of the Winds! I brought you here because you made light of my powers.”

“Uh, goddess”, I played for time, “it was only a joke, a bit of fun. No disrespect was intended.” This works, sometimes, with my wife and it’s a good opening gambit.

“I don’t believe you”, she said with a slight edge in her voice. Something odd was happening as she spoke. Her visage kept changing with her thoughts and mood. Her hair shifted from a sunny blonde to an ominous black. “You don’t take me seriously. No one does anymore. I try and try to please people and all I get in return are jokes from men like you!”

I heard distant thunder. The wind was picking up and the light was fading. This was not a good sign.

“Goddess, I’m thankful for those lovely days when I get a tailwind. It lifts my spirits and makes riding a bicycle a real joy. But I simply didn’t know to thank you for it. Believe me, I’m truly grateful for your help.” I laid it on with as much sincerity as I could. The wind was reaching gale force with raindrops stinging my face.

And just like that, the wind was gone. The light re-appeared and the rain dried almost instantly.

When annoyed, she looked exactly like one of my ex-girlfriends – the one who, until a few years ago, sent a letter bomb at Christmas.! This was going to be tricky. It’s one thing to deal with mood swings. It’s quite another to deal with mood swings AND a force of nature!

“Oh, that’s better”, she said. It was sunny again. “But are you thankful for the headwinds too?”

She changed again, looking slightly wary. The light muted to a soft glow, just like the light that reflects from a thunderhead in the distance. The wind went still. Though it was calm and sunny, there was an underlying menace in the question.

I tried to tap dance out of the minefield. “Well, goddess, I know that headwinds make me stronger both physically and mentally, I much prefer tailwinds. That might be a personal failing or a weakness on my part, but it’s the truth.”

The room darkened again. I’d chosen the wrong answer. “Fool!” she growled. “The winds are a metaphor for life. Everyone has both ups and down, headwinds and tailwinds. Such is the fate of all humans, but you would have only the good. Do you not see that without the obstacles and downturns you would not appreciate the good in your life?”

The winds swirled and shifted, sometimes soft breezes and at others a gale force slap in the face.

Thoughtlessly, I said, “This could carry me all the way to Kansas!”

“You deserve to be in the benighted depths of Kansas!” An Arctic wind howled. Ice crystals stung my face, cutting deeply.

“I’m not afraid of Kansas”, I yelled into the gale, “The Flying Spaghetti Monster would protect me! He’s a big fan of Kansas.”

“Him!” The wind suddenly stopped, leaving an eerie stillness in its wake. “Him?” she repeated softly. “You’ve been touched by His Noodly Appendage?” There was a wistful look in her eyes, and for the moment, she looked like a teenaged girl, wandering in a shopping mall without a credit card to her name.

“Well, some people claim I’m touched.”

She hadn’t heard me. Her eyes were focused on something far off as she remembered. “He never calls me anymore. I thought we had something special, so special.” Her voice trailed off and tears rolled down her cheek.

So of course it started raining where I stood. I hesitated to change her mood again, but screwed up my courage and spoke. “Um, goddess, can I help?”

“Oh, you’re still here”, she said, though it was apparent she was distracted. “Be gone from here and be more careful in the future. I’ll be watching.”

I fell through swirling blackness, but then I felt grass under my back.

I opened my eyes. I was lying on the roadside with a couple of cars idling nearby. Ambulance lights flashed. Standing above me was a paramedic, Maria H. according to her badge, and she looked just like the goddess!

“You really ought to be more careful in the future”, she said.

Somewhere in the Twilight Zone, Rod Serling was laughing his ass off.


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