Saturday, June 1, 2013

They Call the Wind ...



Marco Polo is said to have used the name ‘Tramontane’ in the 13th Century.

In his poem Gastibelza, Les Miserables author Victor Hugo’s main character says, "Le vent qui vient à travers la montagne me rendra fou." ("The wind coming over the mountain will drive me mad.")

It howls through the narrow streets and rattles the windows.

Right now it’s about 20C (68F) and party sunny, but I’m not inclined to go out and walk at an incline just to stand up. The wind is about 40-50 mph (about 80 kph).

The Tramontane, fortunately, is dry, but cold as it comes out of the north, accelerating through the chute between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central range, which lies between the south of France and the Alps.

Reminds me a bit of the ‘Blue Northers’ we’d get in Texas as the jetstream swept the cold air down from the Canadian Rockies. Or a New England ‘Noreaster.’

The Tramontane here in Catalonia typically lasts either 3 days (which is the prediction this week) or as long as 9 days. It’s the seemingly interminable longer stretch, I’m told, which can have an unsettling effect on the psyche that Hugo referred to. The French expression "perdre la tramontane" means "to be disoriented."

Au contraire. I feel that I am getting very well oriented in my new life. I’m cozy in Donna-Lane’s studio ‘Nest.’ Food to outlast any 3-day breeze. A comfortable couch to curl up and read any of several books. An internet connection to work. The love of an amazing woman. And chocolate. What else could I possibly need?

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