Woster: Yes, it's windy in South Dakota. Duh.
I love my wife’s brothers, but I used to want to poke them in the nose when they’d come to visit and always talk about how relentlessly the wind blows in South Dakota.
They all grew up here. After high school, they left, moving one after another to southern California and later to the Longmont area of Colorado. One of them has since moved to a small town in New Mexico, but the other two remain near the Rocky Mountains, and they all complain about the wind back home here. Anytime the wind blows when they’re here, they point it out and add unnecessarily, “Well, sure, it’s South Dakota, after all.’’
Look, I know my state has its faults, and I’ll complain all I want about the weather, especially after the high winds on too many days the past few weeks. But I live here. I was born here, raised here and haven’t been anyplace else except to visit. I’ve earned the right to complain about wind, snow, drought, heat, whatever strikes my fancy.
Outsiders? They can keep quiet. They haven’t earned the right to complain. They left. It’s kind of like this: I can complain about my brothers and sisters. I can do that all I want. I grew up with them. I’ve earned the right. But I’ll fight any outsider who says something critical about any one of my siblings. What gives them the right, you know?
That’s how I’ve tended to feel about outsiders complaining about our wind. Honestly, though? If one of those in-laws had been here in the last several weeks and mentioned the howling wind, I’m afraid I’d have had to agree. Good gracious, it has been a fierce several days recently.
Late last Sunday morning, I looked out the kitchen window to the white-capped Missouri River and wondered at the guy pounding over the jagged water in a fishing boat. The boat looked sturdy but awfully small out in the middle of those deep troughs and foam-topped waves. Not far behind that guy was another person in a much smaller boat. This one was going slower, and from where I stood, it looked like the guy was having trouble making enough speed to keep the waves from breaking over the stern of the boat.
To each his own, although a check of the weather app showed 24 mph winds from the northwest, gusts quite a bit higher and wind chill of 26 degrees. Nothing about that Sunday morning river scene looked inviting.
I have a friend who texted me one recent Saturday to ask if I’d look out the window and tell him how “bouncy’’ the river was. He’s a dedicated angler, and he wanted to know if it was worth his time to bring a boat to the water. I looked. The water was a little choppy, but I didn’t see white caps. I’ve skied worse, although that was when I was young and pretty foolish.
Note to self: Look into the feasibility of starting a Chamberlain-area River Check service. You call, I’ll give you a “bounce’’ update. I might even send videos for an added fee.
After each big wind, I like to walk around my property, pulling stray bits of cardboard from the bushes and unwrapping strips insulation and package wrapping tape from tree trunks. The other day, I noticed that another dead tree on the hillside out back had fallen in the wind. It did no damage, but it left me wondering: If a tree falls in the forest and I’m not out there, does it make a sound? It sure makes a mess.
I think the wind blows harder more often these days. One windstorm this summer sent a heavy Adirondack chair scooting around the side of house and into an overturned picnic table. That isn’t normal. Maybe it’s climate change. Maybe I’m just old and retired and have time to notice stuff like that.
My dilemma isn’t the wind, though. It’s the brothers-in-law. One of these days one of them is sure to come home to visit. If it’s windy when he’s here (I said if), do I punch him? Or should I just nod?