Blowin' Like a Bandit

 There's a Guy Clarke song, Blowin' Like a Bandit, that comes to mind on mornings like this, and nights like last night. It goes " out there on the gulf the wind is blowin' like a bandit, they're talkin' 'bout a hurricane and your riggin will not stand it." I knew it was bad when the smell of smoke woke me around two, and the house shuddered like the ferry does in high seas. Before bed I had filled the woodstove, damped it down and flipped the lever on the catalytic converter. Usually that means a nice slow burn all night, but when it gets really windy a back draft down the chimney sends puffs of smoke out the lid. I padded downstairs and took off the catalytic and opened up the flu some, and got it drawing again. The rain was hitting the shingles, windows and metal roofs like gravel and I had trouble falling back to sleep, as I suspect most of my neighbors on the south facing waterfront did. The gale is still hammering the beach. My wind speed indicator blew apart a few years ago, but the one four miles up the Chilkat River at the airport peaked at 45 mph, and down at the Eldred Rock lighthouse it was clocked at 63mph. I'm between the two, and figure 55 is a good guess for my peak gust.  The marine forecast calls for 9 foot seas and south gales through noon. Batten down the hatches, and as Guy Clarke sings "don't you dare take that boat out to sea."
In other news, the pretzel baking went surprisingly well. There was lots of flour everywhere, and none of them turned out to be actual pretzel shapes, but the smell of baking bread filled the primary wing of the school, and that alone was worth it. I have to remember how literally children hear what adults say. When one little girl reached into the dough and took a bite I said, (with too much alarm it turns out--) " Yikes, don't do that! Yeast dough grows in your stomach and can make you very, very sick. Too much can even kill you." And the little girl spit it out onto the table, looking like she might cry, and a little boy said " will she die?" and I assured her, and him, that she wouldn't die, but that it is still not a good thing to do, and that she'd have to eat a whole lot more to have her stomach explode. Then that brought up a long discussion about what that would look like and I vowed to choose words more carefully.
Also, while we were baking Mario stepped out of another classroom into the kitchen area  with a red tailed hawk on his shoulder. Mario is a falconer, the bird was sitting on his leather gloved hand and tethered to it.  Everyone gasped at the unexpected visitor, and Mario held the hawk so we could all look. I said he was beautiful. He was so regal, and completely present in such an intense, hawk like way,  with a sharp kind of intelligence in his eyes. He was bigger than I expected too, from the hawks I've seen flying along the beach, about a foot tall, it seemed. Mario said that yes he is beautiful, but don't let looks fool you, he is not a pet, "He is a killing a machine"  Mario said.
Birders and the curious from all over arrived in town yesterday to celebrate a raptor known more for its scavenging than killing, for the annual Bald Eagle Festival.  It is going to be a tough day for eagle viewing, with all this wind and rain, and some snow is forecast for later today. Maybe the best place to spend the day will be at the Eagle Foundation with Mario and his birds.  I'd sure like to see that hawk again.


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