Weather Throws People Together

At Colgate’s reunion this weekend, the campus storm tracker alerted all to head indoors. Someone who graduated 6 years after I was born landed inside our reunion housing. He tolerated our bawdy stories and antics. Turned out he and I were both to be at the All-Class Authors’ Book Signing the next day. 

His book about his father looks really interesting. We both brought along artifacts–his were letters and such from which he had pieced the book together, kept in a cigar box–and switched our chairs next to each other. We both lamented not having asked questions of parents while they were still alive. He is the third in his family lineage to have the same name, so long ago they nicknamed him Trip. 

Harry Haldt, AKA Trip, it was fantastic meeting such a gent and thanks for your help. Happy the storm threw us together. And as I’m sure you tire of hearing, you are a trip.

Good luck! See you in 5 years.

The Winds of Change: Something’s Coming, Something Good?

When I left Vermont for Massachusetts six years ago, it seemed that I’d relocated to a wicked windy state. The winds would positively howl at night in my Boston-adjacent neighborhood, a kinetic metal sculpture outside gonging like a buoy. 

But when I moved back to Vermont two years ago, I realized the entire northeast had in fact gotten windier. As has much of our country in the last 10 years. New England has something called a “jet streak” nearby, a part of the jet stream where winds are stronger, but the west has been getting clobbered, too. The whole planet has become mysteriously windier.

While of great benefit to wind farms, our newly windy climate has less favorable consequences in our area. In winter, power outages are terribly unfun when trees or limbs fall on power lines. In summer, people are fond of burning stuff outside, often unmonitored. With all of our old wooden structures in Vermont, and a recent trend to long weeks without rain, that’s just not a good idea. 

Then there’s sports. I was planning on working on my tennis serve this summer, but it’s hard to get any consistency going when 1.) your baseball cap is giving you lift like the Flying Nun, and 2.) you have to guess as you toss your ball high into the air for the serve: (a.) Will there be wind? (b.) How strong will it be? (c.) From which direction will it come? That goes for your lobs in tennis and, frankly, any ball of any kind coming at you or leaving you in any sport. The winds are not only gusting, they’re swirling. Is this affecting pitching? Batting? Basketball? It’s got to be affecting golf. Surely volleyball. Fake sports like pickleball and badminton must now be more like gambling than sports. 

Wait what? Did I just denigrate pickle ball? Yes, I did. Badminton never pretended to be a real sport; it knew its place as a charming folly in the wide world of athleticism: a dusty boxed set that lives in the attic for years at a time, trotted out gamely at family reunions, if and when the shuttlecock can be found and its rubber nub hasn’t crackled apart, rendering it useless. 

Really, bully for all who dig pickleball, but I gave it several tries and here’s my assessment: a noisy “sport” named after a dog, invented by restless wealthy people, with inscrutable scoring that takes so long to learn that players mostly announce the score in the interrogative, that feels like a fanciful game your little nephew makes up and keeps changing the rules on so that you can’t beat him. Mainly, it screws up my tennis courts, man, with distracting court tapings and heinous net-lowerings that pickleballers don’t bother to fix when they’re done. Tennis is a sensible and courteous game, for civilized people. Play tennis. Before a swirling windy vortex sucks your pickleball, more whiffle than ball, up into the heavens forever (“Hate mail can be addressed to”).

But I digress. Back to the wind. The “winds of change” is an expression signifying a sense that change is in the air. Has Dear Reader ever gotten this? At times I have felt that the wind did in fact portend change, or I at least interpreted it thusly and used it as a catalyst to make my own change. Some of us take unusual winds as a very real sign. And given current world events – and news channels relentlessly covering not only existing problems, but also imagined terrors that may never even come to pass – we can easily panic about what changes may be headed our way.

I’ve said it before, but it never gets old: catastrophizing about an unknown future and all forms of hand-wringing in general serve only to rattle us.  It does not serve us to fret over things out of our control. It’s up to us to rein in our worrying — including all who live alone and are unfortunately free to ruminate endlessly, sleeplessly, with no one to talk to or offer comfort. It’s up to each of us to do our best to remain grounded, not like a pickleball sailing off to Mars. It’s up to us to think pleasant thoughts for our selves, each other, and the planet. Otherwise, we won’t feel well, or safe, or loved. What good could come from that?

Truly, it’s entirely possible that what is coming is something very good indeed. Some bad things in the mix, no doubt, but maybe something major and lovely is en route. Consider interpreting the winds this way: that people who think or act upon others with harmful intent in this time and place might soon find themselves powerless, blown far, far away like so many cracked and useless shuttlecocks in strong winds. Then those of us who think and act with love will finally understand the power of love – our love, and that of the entire world. 

Okay, I’m not kidding, the wind is howling as we speak. All cosmic musings aside, this should be an interesting summer between tent pitching and anchoring umbrellas at beaches. Beware projectiles. Think positively. Good day.

Ann Aikens has published a darkly comical book of advice, A Young Woman’s Guide to Life: A Cautionary Tale, available in Vermont shops listed at, and on Amazon. She has written her Upper Valley Girl column since 1996.

Good News Patrol: Now in 4 Vermont Bookstores!

BUY LOCAL is big in Vermont. Booksellers are All In to promote local authors, way more than other places. Huge thanks to:

Royal Towne Gifts (Randolph)
Yankee Bookshop (Woodstock)
Bear Pond Books (Montpelier)
Barnes & Noble (Burlington)

Today’s high point: goddess Teresa at B&N putting my very orange book on both the Graduation and Local shelves. 🥰 Highest point: seeing “Signed Edition” stickers being applied by Goddess to humble tome.

Then my nephew’s last-place baseball team beat the first-place team. Can it be?!

But enough about us. Do comment with your own Good News. So needed! ❤️

Ann Aikens

Official Site of Author Ann Aikens

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