The Wind

Kage Baker loved the autumnal wind storms. We get such, in the coastal areas of California. They’re exciting, primal and fierce and threatening calamity.

Sometimes it’s the relentless breath of the desert, when hot winds flow out over the land like a boiling tide –  cats give out shocks from the static in their fur, and the humidity drops so fast your eyes start shrivelling, and (as Raymond Chandler wisely said),  “Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and eye their husbands’ necks.”

Sometimes it’s the first blast of winter. The wind swings round and comes roaring down from the North so cold you can see the air turning a steely glacial blue. Time then to find your flannel nightclothes and the socks that have crawled to the back of the drawer over the last 6 months; time to find shoes with closed toes.

Either way, the leaves end up being blown sideways up the street. Our lawn is covered with the jacaranda leaves from the church four houses up the block; our mulberry leaves are skittering cross the schoolyard 4 houses down from us. Last night, the wind took most of the leaves and started on the Halloween decorations on all the lawns and porches hereabouts. Our lights are now dangling like glowing mutant Spanish moss, blown all akimbo. And the wind is rising to set them swaying again.

We kept losing power last night. When the wind started – with a literal BOOM as it blew out a nearby condenser – the power started trying to die, like a candle flame in a draft. For the first half hour it flickered on and off like lightning: dying, catching on again, dying again … the modem and all the lights were flashing on and off insanely as the electricity surged through them at intervals of only seconds. My computer had hysterics and started cycling my screen saver like a magic lantern show before I got to it and shut it down – the surge protector seemed to be the first casualty and nothing shut off automatically.

Which is pretty much why I did not get a blog entry up last night. Everything went nuts.

The power finally settled down, though not before there were a couple more condenser explosions and a low, monstrous groaning coming from the turbines at the DWP station three blocks away. We got lights and telly and some computer function back. But my machine had had a trauma, and there was no gallivanting round the internet for me last night. When I finally got brave enough to turn it back on, I got one of those interesting white-on-black screens that give you options on how to re-start. In SAFE mode, in Swahili, standing on one foot with an apple pie on your head … any way but the normal way, because that was no longer an option.

It took me until 3 AM to finish all the diagnostic tests and reboots and re-loading of drivers and ancillary crap. By that time, I was discovering that there were … holes … in some of the word processing files I had had open at the time. And 50,000 words of a novel, half done, were MIA.

The sound of the chimes still banging away like artillery fire in the backyard were suddenly a knell.

So I sent off a desperate email to the amazing Neassa, who was in possession of the URL for the off-site place where I had stored a copy of those 50,000 words. I couldn’t remember where it was. After nervously chomping my way through half a bag of Trader Joe’s Parmesan Pita Chips, I realized Neassa was unlikely to answer me at o’dark thirty. So I went to bed and brooded my way to sleep.

Luckily, she did indeed know where I’d put it. Now I can rebuild the document on my hard drive, and stash away another copy or two on separate thumb drives … one to be laid away in a desk drawer, wrapped in samite and holy herbs and only to be called forth in the event of the Last Days eating every other copy.

So I’ve reclaimed that, at least, from the winds of the season. They’ve been cruelly busy this year, sweeping away friends and memories and dreams – I’m clinging to whatever I can. The wind is rising again, now, and is supposed to be every bit as fierce tonight as it was last night.

This time, though, I’m turning off the computer as soon as the chimes in the lemon tree start. I can knit in the dark or read by Kindle light, without risking losing my words to the wind again.

It’s taken too much this year.