Outdoor Diary: Learning to Like the Weather You Hate

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Humans outside episode 193

We all have a type of weather we just really can’t stand. But what if you paused to find a reason to at least appreciate it? What would you find?

In this Outdoor Diary episode, Amy talks about her recent experience learning to like the notorious wind in her part of Alaska.

Some of the good stuff:

[:45] The wind as an Alaska origin story
[2:32] The wind comes off the what?
[3:39] Getting over it
[4:08] Finding yourself in the wind and what to do about it
[5:07] What you might notice

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Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary.

The wind that gusts through Palmer, Alaska is part of my outdoor origin story, if you will. It was a dark and stormy night — no just kidding, But it was a gray and blustery day in early June when we first pulled into Palmer, Alaska. We had bought a house sight unseen after only a Facetime tour by our realtor. Now I think about it, it was a windy day when she gave us the tour, and when I asked she noted that it is often windy here. But I wasn’t really paying attention to that.

By the time we got to Palmer we’d been on the road for several weeks, driving from Clarksville, Tennessee with the two boys and the dog with Luke and me in my beloved Volvo station wagon. It felt roomy enough in there for the first week or so, but by the time we hit a June snow storm in British Columbia and found a series of motels instead of camping like we’d planned, I was over it in a big way. Yet, as we wound our way up the Glenn Highway, passing my first-ever glacier views and making a beeline for our new hometown, the place of our imaginations, I was wide-eyed and ready for Alaska.

Except of course I wasn’t, really, in so many ways. And on that particular June day the thing I was not ready for was the wind.

Just as we had in countless towns on our journey, we pulled into town and found a picnic table where we could eat some PBJ with the kids. We sat down across the street from the Palmer visitor center and ate through what felt like a wind storm. It was 55 degrees and the air felt cold, especially compared to what I had been used to down south. I wandered into the visitor center, and approached someone sitting behind the counter.

“Is it always this windy?” I asked with, I admit, fear and trepidation as to what the response would be.

“That’s Palmer,” chirped the guy. “The wind comes off the glacier!”

Now, if you’re familiar with glaciers and wind and how that all works, fine. But I was not. And all I knew was that wind coming off the glacier sounded really, really bad. What in the world had I gotten myself into?

I have since learned that wind coming off the glacier is cold and it is plentiful. It sweeps down the Valley bringing with it the fine glacial silt and dust. It is not always present, but when it is you know it. You can hear the wind picking up as it pushed up the Valley and through the trees. And just because it is windy in town does not mean it is windy 4 miles away where I live — and vice versa.

Wind is not my favorite. When we first lived at Fort Campbell I was introduced to tornadoes, and in a house that was against a large, open field I felt every breath of those winds hitting against the side of the house, scaring the crap out of me. I was glad to be getting away from that. I had no idea that I was trading tornadoes in for glacier wind.

Wind moving through the Matanuska-Susitna Valley where we live is just a part of life here, as everyone who lives here well knows and has accepted. If you’re going to be here, you have to at least come to peace with the wind. You don’t have to love it. But you do have to live with it.

And yet as someone who wants to spend time outside daily, I want to do more than just be at peace with any factor of heading outside. I want to learn to embrace it all, even the parts I dont like. It doesn’t have to be my favorite, but not everything can be, right? I just want to find the good in every part of weather. And that includes the wind.

I’ve been nursing a sprained ankle this week, which kept me sitting still when i wanted to be out playing in the cool but sunny and gorgeous March weather. You know that I always say any outdoor time counts for my 20 minutes, but in the winter it helps to be moving so you stay warm. Since I couldn’t be moving and a swollen ankle was keeping me out of the hot tub, my next-best option was to bundle up and sit on my porch.

Now, sitting on your porch is fine and dandy with a cozy jacket and pants on. But sitting in the wind? Sounds bad. Which is why when the wind picked up I really, really didn’t want to do that. And yet that’s the option I had. So I braced myself and went outside. And I sat on my porch in the wind.

As a regular wind avoider you’ll find me on breezy days walking somewhere with a wind break or, on really windy days, heading out for some time in a place where the wind isn’t as bad. And because I avoid it, I never stop and watch when it can do. But as I sat on my porch, that’s exactly what I did.

I felt the wind against my face. I watched as it moved through trees around my yard. I saw that way it pushed a few leaves across my yard. Above my head, a raven soared and glided in it, rising and falling and hilariously pushing sideways. I heard a tree somewhere in the woods crack against itself as the wind pushed through its late-winter naked branches. I caught a scent of snow and leaves. And in the end, I thought – hey – this wasn’t so bad.

So the next day I did it again.

I’m not going to say that I’m a wind lover now after two attempts to fix my attitude. But I am a wind noticer. I hunted for the good a little in the weather I dislike the most, and what do you know? I found it.

You can see a photo of me during my outdoor wind time on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And of course I want to see your outdoor photos, too. Tag them with #humasoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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