These Dakota Winds Must be German
Balcom, Sue B. "These
Dakota Winds Must be German." Mandan
A wild turkey scratched its way form one
end of the yard to the next, looking for stray bird
seed or corn from the farmer's field, fighting every
step of the way walking into the wind.
Now turkeys are fairly close to the ground, especially
with their heads down pecking through the weeds, and
still you could see the wind ruffled feathers in spite
of the fact the bird was holding those large wings
as close to its body as possible.
With temperatures near or above 60 degrees a couple
of Sundays ago, it would have been an exemplary day
on the plains; however the wind was so strong, it
was hard to notice.
Tuesday morning, however, was another absolutely
balmy before the wind with gusts of up to 6o miles
per hour began to blow.
Think about 10 or so years back. Since it's, November,
it could be snowing and those wind would have whipped
up a dandy blizzard. Alas, we have no more snow in
November, and temperatures that make me think it's
closer to the vernal equinox than the winter solstice.
The only noticeable effect of winter coming this month
would be the shortening daylight hours.
My mother does not like the wind; my husband does
not like the wind; most people complain about the
wind... I, on the other hand, don't mind the occasional
wind. I watch what it does to leaves and paper. I
allow it to "blow the stink off me." Remember
how your children smelled like fresh air when they
came in from playing outside on a breezy day? Heaven
As I observed the wildlife and weeds bending to the
wind last weekend, I had a thought the wind in North
Dakota has got to be German.
My family really loves to work. There's a kind of
philosophy that if you are going to be doing something,
work included, you must give it your all.
So, the wind across the plains reminds me of my own
family as it scrubs vigorously across the land most
every day. Since the wind was probably here first,
maybe my family takes its lesson from the wind instead
of the other way around.
Like my family, there are gentle breezes at times,
but for the greater portion of the week, the focus
is to beat the dirt (in the house and in the fields)
into submission. I had heard that the Germans have
a saying, "Arbeit macht das Leben suess."
actually said it to me on fine summer day in English
translated the phrase means "work makes life
Like windy days on the plains, when the wind quit
blowing, or in the case of the German the days' work
was finished, the rewards begin.
Everyone knows when the wind does not blow in this
state, there's an unnatural feeling of peace over
every living thing. You can hear the birds and crickets
singing and the voices of Canadian Geese flying overhead.
beer footsteps in the tall grass rustle quietly in
the distance. It's awesome.
The Germans were more prone to making a bit of noise
when they celebrated the end of a workweek. My Uncle
Art, who passed away about 12 years age, told me about
a wedding party, a "Hochzeit," that lasted
so long, the priest actually asked them to go home
and sober up because Sunday was a day away and he
expected to them in church.
Besides the homemade sausages, kuchen and pickles,
standard wedding fare included Hochzeit Schnaaps.
Rather than explain how that is made, I'll just say
this. If you have ever had it, you will never forget
it. To the rest of you, maybe you want to count your
The Kinston Trio may have called the wind Mariah,
but out here on the plains of North Dakota, we call
the wind Martha or Magdalene or Matilda.
Reprinted with permission of the Mandan News.