Weather or Not

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
- Alfred Wainwright

Well, that’s an utterly inadequate sentiment in the aftermath of a pre-Proutopia prairie wind storm that struck just hours before our first flight of the weekend.

Our artist/vendors, our site coordinator, Rosie Neufeld, and our indispensable helpers had spent all day Friday (in what can only be described as an open-air sauna) setting up their sparkling white tents in anticipation of our Saturday morning parade. By 4 o’clock virtually all were tethered to the ground, roosting like a flock of large white doves.

There were a few hints of trouble. The wind was picking up. Ominous clouds were gathering. There was some fluttering of tent walls and awnings. Then some actual billowing.
Soon came the first rush of hard rain and an upsurge of air. One tent had gone down earlier and another was threatening. In 30 minutes it had all settled down. The next wave was expected around 9:00 pm. Only it wasn’t a wave. It was a tsunami of wind and water.

By 10:30, seven tents were down. Power lines in the area had taken flight along with the doves. Heidi Hunter and the few flock members who were still onsite began to raise the alarm. There was a flurry of phone calls and texts.

It was a disaster.

There is pluck. And then there is pluck. Our artists have pluck.

As in all crises, there is the initial shock. This is, and must be, followed by action. The group took off.

In aviation, in order to get an aircraft off the ground, the wings must be set at a particular angle to get lift. This positioning of the wings is referred to as “attitude,” as in: You can only get off the ground if you have the right attitude.

Heidi and I talked briefly on the phone. We agreed that our objective remained the same as ever: Open for business.

Attitudes were set. The flock rose to the occasion. Bent and sopping tents were set aside. Artists who had lost their booths would be shifted into some of the smaller outbuildings on the property. The collapsed wreckage would be pushed back a little but remain onsite - a sculptural reminder of what had just transpired.

Sometimes, large flocks of starlings (birds numbering in the hundreds and even thousands) will fly as one. Their movements are somehow choreographed, by instinct, into an aerial ballet where the flock moves in unison with a singular, spectacular goal in mind. This is what our little community of Proutopia pulled off, with generosity and grace. At 10:00 am, we were open for business.

Our flock was safe. No one had been hurt and amazingly, no one had lost any of their stock. Keeping the right attitude had paid off.

Alfred Wainwright had it wrong. Sometimes the weather is so bad, there is simply no suitable clothing.

William Shakespeare, on the other hand, was more correct: There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Safely on the ground with all the flock,
Wendy King p,p. (Pigeon post)


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