The Wind And The Flagpole

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The wind blew fiercely last weekend, with gusts often reaching more than 50 mph. Outside chairs toppled over. Tree limbs fell across the pastures. The cats look alarmed and wanted back inside. Even Molly the Maltese, who normally loves being outside, stood at the back door, whimpering to be let inside. Pollen streamed sideways and oak clusters lined the driveway. Maybe this will end pollen season, a hope we hold every spring — ready for noses to stop streaming, eager to power-wash away the yellow powder covering everything outside. We’re eager to open windows again and enjoy a spring breeze. The house is hermetically sealed until pollen season ends.

As is customary most late Sunday afternoons, I headed to the front porch to sit on the outside couch, read a book and listen to NPR. I shook off the cushion, covered in yellow powder, and made myself comfortable while the wind blew incessantly, balancing my iPhone on top of a glass of wine to keep both the gnats and the pollen out of my Malbec. The flagpole rope jangled constantly against the pole. The previous owner had a large flagpole installed in the front pasture, about 30 feet high, with a brass eagle at its top. One of the first actions I took after we moved in last summer was to buy a larger, newer flag. I enjoy watching it flap in the breeze while I’m sitting on the porch. It was flapping this way and that as the wind shifted from the south to the east and back again.

Suddenly, the sound changed. I looked up to see a piece of the flag had wrapped itself tightly around the brass eagle. The flag was nearly upside down. Now, there’s a metaphor, I thought.

I watched it a while. The flag and rope were banging against the pole. The portion wrapped around the eagle seemed to tighten itself with every massive wind gust. After a sip of wine and a deep sigh, I walked to the pole and untied the rope that holds the flag aloft. The wind nearly ripped it out of my hands. I tried pulling the flag down. It would descend about 18 inches, then tighten itself against the eagle. I hoisted it back up, but nothing changed.

Sitting back down on the porch couch, I picked up my book. But I couldn’t stop watching that poor flag, stuck tightly to the eagle. I went back down to the pole several more times, trying various methods, like pulling the rope out from the pole, whipping it in vain hopes that the flag would free itself from the eagle. Nothing worked. I took another sip of wine. The wind and warm weather were making me sleepy, not to mention the wine. I decided a short nap was in order and went inside. Normally, I just curl up on the porch couch, but the pollen and gales were too much. I set the phone timer for 35 minutes – my standard couch-nap allotment. Don’t ask me why I always choose 35 minutes. It just works.

My nap was short. My brother-in-law Jim arrived about 15 minutes later, with cuttings from some wisteria on his land. My Beautiful Mystery Companion plans to propagate them and create her own plants, a process that will take a year. The purple blossoms and scent of a wisteria shrub are one of our favorites. I got up and headed down the hill where he had parked, intending to seek his advice on the stuck flag, as well as show him the initial work being done to build a pond and divert water out of the two lower pastures.

By the time I climbed back up the hill, the flag had somehow freed itself from the eagle and was flying freely once again. I have no idea how. But there is a lesson there, how sometimes sticky situations can resolve themselves if we don’t fret about them too much.

Later that day, I spied a gold mylar balloon, like one would buy for a birthday party, stuck high in an oak tree in the back pasture. The wind had carried it aloft from its original location, maybe a neighbor’s celebration, maybe from many miles away, and planted it in that tree, where it will stay until the wind or gravity decides differently.

I’m still pondering the meaning of that. I’ll have to get back to you.

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