Tag Archives: cycling

Any Way The Wind Blows

14 Mar

When I was a high school student in Belgium, we were taught in French class that in France there was a type of wind called “mistral”. At that time, this made no sense to me at all. In Belgium, wind is wind.

But then I moved to Spain, to a village a stone´s throw away from the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the many new things I learned there, was a kind of knowledge I acquired in the most physical of ways. That air can be humid or dry. We don´t really notice that in Flanders´ Fields, but in Valencia: oh boy.

When the wind comes in from over the sea, saturating the air with humidity, it makes you freeze to death in winter, and drown in your own sweat in summer. They call this wind Levante, because it comes from the east, where the sun comes up (“levantarse” means “to get up” in Spanish).

The wind that comes from the west is called Ponente (“poner” means “to put down” in Spanish, so that refers to where the sun goes down -it´s really that simple) and brings along the dry heat from the plains of the Spanish midland. Very agreeable in winter, but when it comes along during the hot summer months, it feels like you´ve stuck your head into an oven.

This morning I went cycling, following a bike trail that runs through the orange fields (when I get a new memory card for my camera, I´ll post some pictures, I promise) to a village a few kilometers up north. The wind was coming from the north, so it blew straight in my face, making my cheeks glow. It´s called Tramontane, because it comes from over the mountains. It´s a dry, cold wind. And I loved it. As a matter of fact, I was quite surprised to notice just how much I loved this particular wind, and then it struck me: this was the wind from home. This was the wind I had grown up with. Cold and dry.

And the nicest part of it was that it actually came from home, from up north. And when I´d gotten to the end of the track and had turned around, it blew me straight back to my new home, pushing me gently but firmly in my back, as if to say: there you go, honey, there´s your new home now. But I´ll come and visit you from time to time.