There is a forceful wind blowing outside today. The wind has always unnerved me. I want to hide from it. In Tirrenia by the sea, where I lived for most of my youth, the water was always inviting but the strong winds perturbed me to no end. When the Libeccio came through from the South or the Tramontana from behind the mountains, the green shutters, on the windows of the houses on the sea, were quickly closed to ward off the commotion, literal and emotional, that the wind brought with it.

  I was not alone in my distaste for the winds of change. The old women, the grandmothers, lamenting the sand and the dust that would inevitably seep through the doors and the windows, even into the food left for unruly children, they too were annoyed. Cranky and nervous, eyes squinty and kerchiefs blowing they planted themselves at the market stands; both vendors and customers complaining. Wind pissed the women off, e chiaro. Pretty sales girls in high end boutiques bothered by their dresses flying up and noses red, hair billowy and standing up, like strega hair tends to do; also pissed off.

The only person I remember who was not pissed off was my friend C. who relished this type of thing. Made her feel free, she said.  When you are sixteen, freedom is your only desire and since in those days I loved her the most, I would allow  her to cajole me to the beach in the middle of winter storms ‘to be free’.  She would luxuriate in the wind pelting her face and I would sardonically put up with the same. Invariably she would pull the hair brush from her bag and beg me to brush her hair. Daunting as it was, I did it.  This was our ritual of sharing, instinctual in nature,  balancing out the differences between us. Looking out into the horizon and the violent waves, she traveled in her mind to some other place that made her broken heart free for a moment, trusting me to brush back suspected invaders.

In myths and fairy tales at least, the wind brings change:  turbulence, emotional upheaval, visitors we are not expecting. Some people invoke the Holy Spirit and others the stirring up of the unconscious that strives to move to consciousness. In my grandmothers mythology the Slavic Baba Yaga and the Italian Befana, both travail the arc of the Austro-Hungarian and Holy Roman Empires, and are present in superstitions relating to New Year’s day. These customs  converge most conveniently in  frightening old hags slashing through the skies on  handmade witches brooms.  They are always throwing up dust and havoc so that you have no choice but to clean house or settle with the most unpleasant aspects in relationships, whether material or emotional. Hence the traditions that tell you to ‘sweep out the old’  in order to let in the new. The promise of a new beginning, in Spring.

My Tirrenia times long gone, I  have learned a bit more patience and am certainly  more sure of myself than in the early days of ‘wind hating’. I will always think of C. and her far away eyes when the wind kicks up. I could not have known then that it takes a while to build a strong foundation ensuring that the wind can hardly blow your house down, at least not ‘just like that’. I could not see that the complaining old women were showing me the way and that all I had to do was shutter the windows and wait out the crazy making Sirocco.  Couldn’t suspect that  I didn’t have to sit on the frozen dunes in the biting air to see the horizon because access to freedom began at home, in my own secret sea.

  By the end of today I will have made peace with the Wind Witch. I’ll have swept my house, as is the custom of our multi-cultural lineage and bid her goodbye as the New Year approaches midnight. Ultimately, I will have released the pent up pleasure of annoyance at the Wind Witch knowing that anyway, she is the twin sister of the Gracious Mother, the Sexy Soil Goddess, the Wise Earth Woman, the Cherished Grand Mother that I love. In the New Year, she will be the one who tells wondrous life stories and sometimes, when in a good mood,  will give magical gifts to those that are pure in heart and ready to fly.