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Blame it on the Wind

May 20, 2011

Have you been feeling cranky, aggressive, depressed, or just a bit blah, lately? Maybe it’s the weather.

A couple of nights ago, at a graduation dinner AUB (American University of Beirut) students, an ominous wind began to blow across the courtyard. I watched as the girls glanced nervously skyward as their dresses rustled and a few warning drops landed on their perfectly blow-dried hair.  Within minutes, everyone was dashing for cover as a dusty rain started blowing onto everything. Oddly, there was actually one person in the crowd who thought to bring an umbrella, but it turns out that he was a British professor, which figures!

Dust over the Persian Gulf two weeks ago, courtesy of Nasa Earth Observatory. Click image to see in Google Earth

By the next morning, cars all over the Beirut were speckled with muddy rain, and the citizens were suspiciously squinting at the sky behind balconies and windows coated in dust. The Khamsin have definitely arrived, and the complaints have come with them. “How can I concentrate with this weather? Don’t take your kids out today! This wind, it makes me feel so …[insert complaint]….”

My typical reaction when someone said this kind of thing to me, was to roll my eyes and shake my head. The weather is the reason for your headache/ nausea / bad attitude?  Oh please. It just sounds so provincial.  But I have to admit; there is something kind of spooky about the Khamsin.

The Khamsin winds usually appear at this time of year across in North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian Peninsula.  They are hot, dry, and oppressive, and have been blamed for all kinds of crazy behavior. I looked into it. A quick read on Wikipedia turned up some good stories; like reports of the Khamsin blinding soldiers and making compasses go haywire during World War II, and choking Napoleon’s men with “suffocating walls of dust” during his Egyptian Campaign.  The winds have even been used as a defense in court cases for crimes committed during the Khamsin, because it’s accepted that they can make people a bit loony.  According to lots of research,  it is true that wind and heat do not have a very good effect on our personalities. Crime rates rise, car accidents increase, even horn honking goes up, (although I’m not sure Beirut is any louder than usual this week!) There is also a somewhat controversial theory that has to do with the large amount of positive ions that come with these hot dry winds, which studies have connected to cause a rise in serotonin, making us feel tired, nauseated, irritable and even violent.

Hmmm. So it turns out there is something to this weather thing. But what do we do with this information?

We could…. grumble about the pollution, the dust, about how it makes us feel tired and crabby, about the fact that we can’t get our cars washed for the next week or spend much time outdoors. Yep, we could definitely do that. Or we could try to appreciate that this is just another part of nature’s cycle and change of seasons.

Living in cities has made us less in tune with the effect this cycle has on our bodies, but no less susceptible. Consider for a moment the profound effects that the change of seasons has on our planet, on ocean tides, the migration of species, the growth cycle of crops and fertility cycles of animals, (including us, apparently!) . Our bodies are sensitive instruments, vulnerable to changes not just in temperature, but barometric pressure and humidity. Acupuncturists sometimes use the analogy of the maple tree – just as these changes help to ‘squeeze’ the tree to release sap, so can they can put pressure on the inner workings of our bodies and energy flow. I love this idea so I looked up sap flow, and it turns out that this is true, at least for the trees.  I know that there are times of the year when I feel focused and energized and able to give, and others when I feel so depleted and out of synch I just want to hide under my blanket all day.  Personally I actually love this kind of windy weather, it signals change to me, which generally makes me restless, but in a good way.

So instead of getting annoyed because we’ve caught the flu or are feeling a bit ‘under the weather’ so to speak, let’s do what we can to ease ourselves through it. This includes eating foods that are in season, getting the rest we need, and accepting that we are part of this natural cycle of change and growth, even embracing it.  Smiling works too, try smiling at your screen right now…… Feels good, huh :)

On a lighter note…. I know a more appropriate song would be the “Winds of Change, but throughout writing this post, I’ve had the song “Blame it on the rain” running through my head. Remember Milli Vanilli’s Classic 80s Number One? So here’s a 80s flashback for you. Admit it, you loved them for a while, even if they were lip-synching.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 22, 2011 7:52 am

    oh bravo!!! even with the lip-sync!!! winds blew me back to those days!!!! the smile inched it’s way around my face!!!! you’re right it’s good to smile!!!! even with the khamsin!!!! my poor gardenias went into nescafe mode!!! xx

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