In the past few weeks, we’ve had to tie or hold down everything important, lest it blow away in the wind. Wind is nothing new in central North Dakota, nor much of the region, but the wind of late has been unrelenting, with 50 mph gusts continuing day or night. Days with 20 mph winds have seemed calm by comparison. It’s been a rare day where the trees were still and we felt like we could catch a breath.
It’s not, of course, just the winds that have been pervasive and unrelenting. The world at large seems to be getting blown through crisis after crisis. I’ve felt again and again in recent months that the best way to get through was just to find something to hold onto.
Funny thing about wind, though — sometimes it blows in just what you need.
For the past year, conditions around my area have been horribly wet. Until recent weeks, the sump pump in our basement has run almost constantly, a steady rhythm of trickling water followed by a whirring engine. Tractors stuck in fields and old crops left unharvested have been common sights, as have roads inundated with water. Our backyard felt like a sponge.
Now, quite suddenly, at least on our farm, the ground has dried up, firmed up and returned closer to normal. The weather pattern had shifted to less wet than what we had dealt with for the past year, but it took those tremendous, frustrating winds to finish the job.
What we’re left with is far from perfect. The wind causes damage, like downed trees and power lines, and it hasn’t been easy on the crops, animals or humans who have had to endure it. There’s garbage to be picked up and things to be fixed. Plus, the ground in the fields now is bordering on too dry after months of too wet.
But it was only months ago that I heard people say that a drought would be preferable to the constant deluge of moisture. Plus, some of the trees that came down in the gusts were old and dead and past their time; no one had time to cut them down. The winds provided what everyone said they needed, even if what they needed didn’t get delivered quite the way anyone would have chosen.
I can’t help but think it’ll be the same with the winds of change blowing through society right now. The winds of virus and death and protest and unrest continue to topple things we’ve grown used to. We’re all holding on, waiting for it to end — waiting for things to go back to normal.
But things are never in the same place after a strong wind. Things move and bend and change. And, like our recent gusts through central North Dakota, it isn’t always bad. Sometimes things have to change. And sometimes that change needs to come faster than is comfortable.
Maybe the winds we’re all experiencing now will blow in a better world, with more thought given to how protecting one of us protects all of us and more concern about everyone getting a fair shake. Maybe it will topple some old things that no one was willing to knock down. We may have things to clean up when the wind calms down, but that just gives us a chance to make things better.
Around here, we know the wind is never gone for long. The calm times never seem to last. The best thing we can do is make sure the things that are truly important are protected and accept that the winds will change things that need to be changed.
Jenny Schlecht is Agweek's content manager. She lives on a farm and ranch in Medina, N.D., with her husband and two daughters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-595-0425.