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The wind at your back

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

When you drive past an area one day where you observe hundreds and hundreds of giant wind turbines slowly turning, then on the next day you drive down the highway leaning against gales that seem to be blowing 50 to 60 miles an hour pounding on you, your mind is forced to consider the power of this great energy that you can never see — the wind.

What a wonder the wind is. As a boy, visiting my uncles' farms before they had electricity, I remember the wind turning the blades of their windmills and pumping gallon after gallon of water into their stock tanks. They kept the same wind-generated pumping after electricity arrived because it worked so well. What a wonder.

Then, still as a boy, going out on a big frozen pond on ice skates, pulling up my coat over my head, like a sail, and gliding across the ice without an effort with the wind at my back. The wind can be a helpful friend when it's at your back.

Still later as a boy, I built kites and flew them. Flying kites by yourself is a great amusement when you have no friends to play with, (just kidding, I had hundreds of terrific friends — like Trump, everybody loved me). I learned about the wind by adjusting the length and weight of the tails on those kites.

Adults use the wind for recreation, too, with their sailboats, gliders, surfing kites and ice boats. But not just recreation: sailing schooners have been on the seas since the beginning of time. Sailors have developed oars, rudders and sails to help capture the wind and guide their boats. When you see one sailboat sailing east and another sailing west in the same wind, you can appreciate the various dimensions of the wind at work. But the sea never rests, so we have learned to sail in high winds.

Mother Nature uses the wind to assist in doing her work: spreading pollen and seeds in the shapes of little propellers, (boxelder, maple, ash) or whirly birds, helicopters, gliders, tumble weeds, cotton balls, parachutes or kernels — all created to be spread by the wind — and it adds a push for birds in migration or their return from migration.

Listen to the wind. Writers have told us what they hear: the wind whispers, murmurs, sings, hums, whistles, moans, cries, howls, and roars — making our lives pleasant and miserable at different times, but rarely resting. But when it does rest, we listen for the next breath.

We're like birds on a wire, rocking back and forth while we wait for the next breeze.

Khalid Gibran (1883-1931), the Lebanese-American writer, poet and philosopher was a literary giant in his short, troubled life. His masterpiece was The Prophet. He commented extensively on life, love and nature and wrote the following about wind: "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair."

So, get reacquainted with your old friend, the wind. Listen to its moods, let it play with your hair and may it always be at your back.

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