Wind in and of itself makes no sound. It passes like a wraith in weakness and in strength. What creates noise are the obstacles that impede its path: overhead cables vibrating and thrashing with an eerie whining whistle; grasses hissing and sighing as the backs of tall stalks bend in crushing gusts. Gales zing through perilous knotted strands of barbed wire – cheap fencing meant to hold in cattle, but too often scar horses instead, spooked by voices carried along cross-currents of atmospheric jumble.
Wind here in north Hawaii can sock window screens full of red dirt in milliseconds. It launches airborne volcano residue hundreds of miles across vast oceanic channels. Then without warning it will blow the stuff back from whence it came, purifying the mixture of oxygen we inspire. Breezes waft gently, then gather force into fits of frenzy lasting hours or days on end. Visitors often find this unnerving, but for those of us living on these shores, a lack of wind generates greater concern. Earthquakes erupt in stillness. A windless Kona front will wet grasses without precipitation, driving stiffness into joints. In the way that winds disorient tourists, a lack thereof vexes the minds of those accustomed to its propensity for metaphorically clearing out the cobwebs.
Ironman athletes are known to curse these forceful currents, but for those of us practiced at cycling into stiff headwinds, a quiet strength takes root in our hearts and limbs. Let them obsess in their girded designer polyester, for I’ve not passed many on these roads who seem to radiate any great love for the process; rather they are competitively consumed, jaws set and bodies wound tight as springs. I’ll take eclectic clothing and our laid back little collection of street folk any day – striders, cyclers, skateboarders, the old and the young – who smile, nod, and wish one another a heartfelt good day. Perhaps it is our shared joy of living in the midst of verdant fields in striking view of the Pacific ocean and sister island of Maui. And then there is our nemesis and ally, the Kamakani ‘O Kohala – blessed winds of the north shore of Hawaii island.