Volume XI, Issue 47 ~ November 20-26, 2003

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Bay Reflections

What a Little Wind Can Do
by Molly Hoeckel

I ran this evening, one of my occasional midnight runs. Safe or not, I throw them into the mix to keep myself young, on my toes. Am I awake enough to overcome the inertia of the late hours? Alert enough to sense danger in a dim figure a block away, or to avoid the offending brick that will send me sprawling?

Today was the windy day. You may remember this day. I awoke that morning confused, fuzzy scraps of thought tumbling amid discordant moans outside as directed air rushed objects unused to having to fight for purchase. As on most windy days, for as long as I can remember, I awoke with a wicked excitement that today, surely, would bring something unusual. It would be a day for stirring poetry in the most lifeless routine-dwellers, for whipping life into the most stoic of hearts. My day passed, woefully, indoors. Unwilling to allow the elements to subside without testing myself against them, I charged out of my Eastport door at 10:45pm. Dutifully, doggedly, I ran.

For most of the outward half of my loop, I kept my vision focused on points straight ahead. As I cleared the avenue along the college and turned around on the bridge, I threw my head sideways to take in College Creek. Fighting to gain ground, muscles flagging, I knew better than to expect inspiration from the familiar, utilitarian scene along which I plied my path. Then, abashed, I stopped in my tracks.

The wind had cleared the sky. A sweeping arc over the mouth of the creek offered the convincing illusion of space and the limitless curve of the heavens. Silver-limned clouds burst like organ chords above shimmering oak trees. Yellow and white stars, brilliant, framed a moon so bright the entire backdrop of sky was illuminated, a pulsing cobalt blue-and-black velvet screen against which Rudy Valentino might hover or Rousseau’s gypsy finally wake.

Lively whippets of light rebounded off the wind-ripped creek, a white armada of ripples riding wildly on a surface that more often roils languidly, a smooth ribbon of smoky brandy. I laughed out loud, chastened, but joyfully so.

My time in this small concrete jungle is usually spent craning for views between buildings. Irritable at the uninterrupted jumble of brick and stone and wood in our quaint town, I’ll drive 15 minutes south to soothe my eyes on the green stretches of what remains of our region’s farmland. Straining my eyes across the Bay, dissatisfied, I’ll try to conjure the freedom implicit in grander spaces. A cliffside walk along the point in Bay Ridge will sometimes suffice, but more often it leaves me dreaming of wild points on some rocky Irish shoreline.

This evening’s montage was as stirring as any view I’d thoughtlessly gorged on during college years in Montana, on a twilight cruise along the Nile or peaktop in the Lake District of England. As I reluctantly left the scene, the music of my youth poured forth over the Discman I’d worn to keep my feet moving. A passage of truth emerged, perfectly, from a decade not known for its musical revelations:

“You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes, You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky. This is the day — Your life will surely change.”

This is the day. This is the place. As I set my sights homeward, my heart sang with gratitude for what I had been unable to see for tunnel vision — and for what a little wind can do.

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Last updated November 20, 2003 @ 12:58am.