They Call the Wind Maria

In the very mysterious and incredibly miraculous way that most of life’s best experiences happen, I had the opportunity of traveling to Greece a month ago. We stayed on the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. I could (and may) write numerous posts about my experiences there. But today, all I can think about is the wind of Mykonos.

Greece had never been on any list of mine, and yet I found myself drawn to go there for reasons that were unclear to me at the time. I was in need of ease and a low-key kind of trip when this decision to follow my “yes” to go to these islands made itself known to my heart, so I did not plan anything about this trip. I did not do any research (unusual for me,) and as for the travel details, I left it all in the hands of an amazing travel agent, Judy Likouris. (This was a first for me. It was terrific. She is a fantastic human and super good at travel arrangements!)

So when we left the languid heat of Santorini for Mykonos, disembarked from the boat and promptly lost our hats to the whipping wind, it was a total surprise. The “it” I am referring to is the wind of Mykonos.

I have never had an especially particular relationship to the Wind. I did grow up loving a song from the movie musical “Paint Your Wagon” called “They Call the Wind Maria.” Maybe it was gorgeous baritone and heartfelt rendition of Harve Presnell, the actor who sang it in the film. His voice held such longing for the woman he had lost — I wanted to know being loved with such a longing. I have carried that song with me ever since. It finds me at odd times here and there and I will find myself singing or humming it with a great nostalgia. If you’ve never seen his performance in the movie, you are welcome in advance.

That was my relationship to the wind until I stepped onto that island. The wind of Mykonos is famous, as it turns out. The island’s name “Mykonos” translates to “The Island of the Winds.” You have to experience it to believe it and understand it, but trust me when I say that this wind is powerful, fierce, mysterious and alive in a  very special way.

Much of the detail I could give you about the wind would be sourced from this wonderful blog article by Rika Z. Vayianni on the very subject from the website “Greece Is.” It is so well-written I leave it to you to read, but I brought just a few tidbits to tempt you here:

Because, you see, there are many names and there are many winds. And then there is “The Wind.” The Meltemi is a mainly northern wind that often joins forces with its neighboring directions of the compass – mostly pairing with the east to create the Gregos, or slightly less often, with the western wind to produce the Maistros. The Meltemi itself is a child born of two extremes: Every summer, the low barometric pressure from the Balkans clashes with the higher, hot blasts from Africa. In this way the Meltemi is formed, fluctuating in force from playful to fierce, gaining strength as the sun rises and calming down as dusk falls. 

This natural “air-conditioner,” as the locals call it, tames the heat and lowers humidity. Deeply Greek in its essence, it has shaped the geography, architecture and civilization in this corner of the world for millennia. From classic antiquity, when the etesians (“yearly winds”) were thus named after being studied by the great Aristotle himself, to this very day, the Meltemi (from mal tempo, or “bad weather” in Italian) still affects the lifestyle of both locals and visitors. It will ultimately leave its mark on your own Mykonos holiday album.

Some tourists who visit the island spend their time complaining of the wind. I can understand that. I am an aural person and can, at times, have hearing sensitivity. The wind in Mykonos is not just about texture, force or velocity. It doesn’t just blow around whatever is in its wake. It also has a voice.

The people I was visiting with were mostly irritated by the wind on its strongest days. It kept many indoors. It was incessant. It felt even dangerous at times. Granted, we were on the northernmost tip of the island where the winds were the strongest.

I felt at home in that wind in a way I cannot explain. I felt held, supported, encouraged, nourished, spoken to, given to. I felt the wind matched the internal character of my spirit. No one would ever look at me and think, “Oh, she seems like the Mykonos Wind!” But inside, I feel like it. So I suppose, in a way, I met my soulmate on Mykonos. The wind.

I would go off and sit on Mykonos’ craggy bluffs and whisper into the wind. I howled and raged into the wind. I sang into the wind. I pleaded and cried into the wind. I gave the wind my secrets, my heart’s dreams, my deepest wounds. And she generously took them all and gave me to hold in their place a knowing in my bones that I was more than enough as I am, that I already had all that I needed to do whatever it is I want to do, and that everything would always be alright. That I had finally found an essential  part of myself that I had always been longing for.

It has been a month since I set foot there. But I carry that wind with me. It only takes an instant when I turn my mind to it for me to realize that I am hearing it, too. It calms me to connect with it. I feel less alone. I do not in any way understand this. I know I will be there again, someday. But more importantly, I know it is forever with me, too.

I am not the only one. The wind of Mykonos is a generous Goddess. As Vayianni says:

You might stay forever, you might leave and come back or you might never set foot on the island again. But the sound of sea and waves, the continuous murmur of the ever-present Meltemi, will leave a distant echo locked in memory.

I have a name for this phantom wind, too. I call it “Windmills of your Mind,” after a melody composed by Michel Legrand, for the film The Thomas Crown Affair. I liked the title and stole it to name my very own ghost Meltemi, my Mykonian wind of nostalgia.

I have not given my own personal name to the Mykonos wind. And I no longer call the wind Maria. Me and the Wind, we are beyond names somehow. We just know each other. And that is more enough for me.

#Mykonos #wind #soulmate #soul #elements #thegetmyworkouttherechallenge #dayone

2 thoughts on “They Call the Wind Maria

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