In Provence, there is a wind so fierce and cold and persistent. It barrels down from the North of France, through the Alps and down to the Rhone Valley, whipping up everything into a scene of chaos. Le Mistral blows for days under a clear and sunny sky. When you live there, you learn to tie things down. The spices at the market are covered up. Colorfully painted shutters enclose you indoors. If you go out, you learn to wear your hair tied back. You learn to wear your coat, even though looking through the window the sky appears sunny and warm.
There's another wind that blows less frequently. It is a softer, warmer, Southern wind that blows off the Mediterranean Sea, bringing with it a shower of African dust from the Saharan Dessert. It is called the Sirocco wind. It sifts a fine layer of sand over the landscape. It leaves an orange film on the cars. It collects in ochre swirls on the sidewalk. It leaves a pleasant grittiness in your eyes.
It was something like the Provencal wind that blew today in Charlotte, Vermont. It whipped across the autumn foliage, bending trees sideways. Beating the doors in rhythm. Yet the sun shone clear and brightly and serenely high above all the mayhem. Something about the ochre colors reminded me of the Sirocco wind from Northern Africa. But everything else about it was Le Mistral.
It blew for only a few hours. Then it subsided almost as suddenly as it began. And then, there was rain.