January 13, 2017 Leave a comment
Walloped awake by a window bursting open and the shutter flaying in a to-and-fro struggle, I am shocked from late-night sleep and battling with clenched teeth, blinding wind, to hook my fingertips around the edge of the shutter, to pull … to pull it back so that … so that I can control what wrenches from my grip. The catch isn’t working. I have a piece of twine to tie … to tie onto the flapping shutter. And I manage, while the Enemy of the Night, the Mistral, lashes this shutter, my face, this apartment block, this town, region, the west Mediterranean, wreaking an old vengeful violence.
The shutter keeps. I lie back on the pillow, wide-eyed, and listen to the wind, as I have never heard it. I know wind. I come from the Cape. But this … Is it Ligeti voices trying, like demons, to haunt their way through everything? The high-intensity screaming like a bandsaw at my cheek … I’m scared. Are these hexed angels? Will the bashing shutter shower cold glass shards onto my face? I think of flood waters. I think of earthquakes. I hear through the choir of lost souls in the lifeless thrashing of shutters outside against the walls of the apartment block.
It’s an uncanny silence, this. It feels as if it’s rising past my ears and slowly filling the room, like light. The sky turns blue. It’s day.
I’ve had this experience a number of times and throw in a thunderstorm that scared me witless. And I know about the Mistral. My first youthful contact was the description in Roy Campbell’s Horses on the Camargue. He compares the wild horses of these deserted plains as wind over the sea. For me this is the most passionate poem in the language.
Then, there is André Brink’s Midi where he offers the mythology of the wind which bears a name in each of the southern patois. This wind was formerly revered as a god, much as people have thought volcanoes to be gods. And I’ve wondered how Frederic Mistral came to his surname, the Provencal poet who received the Nobel prize in 1905.
I think of the South-Easter – Sedoos in the patois – which tumbles Table Mountain’s tablecloth over the crags and which, as “The Cape Doctor”, blows away the germs. It’s all so cosy until you wander around the Diaz monument on the Foreshore and experience the channeled force of the South-Easter, just as the Mistral channels its force through the Rhône valley at 100 kms/h. Then you hold on, body and soul.
© Will van der Walt
Les Semboules, Antibes
André P. Brink : Midi. Op reis deur Suid-Frankryk. Human & Rousseau, Cape Town. 1969.
Roy Campbell: Horses on the Camargue
Refer for interest: György Ligeti (1923-2006), the Hungarian composer’s work “Atmospheres” (1961), amongst others.
Night tree branches – depositphotos.com
Trees in the wind – mitsiemckellick.wordpress.com
Cape Town Wind – source lost
Trees in the wind – source lost