Only a Wind Gust

Incoming Storm

Three days before Christmas, a dark line of storm clouds stretched across the northwest horizon along the backside of the farm. I considered waking my husband to feed the horses, but I’d volunteered the night before.

Rain had not reached the house yet, so I dashed to the stalls. After the broodmares nosed their oats, I latched the feed-room door and met my blind dog inside the wide opening of the nearby barn.

Sheeka’s tank is always full in the morning, so we sprinted down a grass road between pastures in an effort to beat the downpour. I figured time would allow a good canine a moment to pee.

I figured wrong.

Mid-stream, a wind gust roared toward us in the open field. I heard a howl seconds before it whipped up the rye grass. The dark clouds sat in the distance, but a monstrous current of air had cruised ahead to steer in the rain.

Our backs to the wind, Sheeka and I ran full speed, in step with our booming hearts. I stopped in the barn to secure my half-empty dog in the tack room, and then streaked across the yard with the chicken on my heels, followed by the cat. 

We ran up the porch steps and rushed inside. The cat, chicken, and I hovered in the living room and watched as—whoosh!—a pair of work gloves, a tin snowman, and a teacup sailed off the front porch.

As fast as it came, the airstream rolled away. But rain fell hard in its wake and sounded like a thousand bantam roosters, pecking on the cold tin roof. I had a heck of a time coaxing the squawking chicken to go back outside.

Only the cat was unfazed.

Afterwards, I climbed over fallen pecan and live oak branches on my trek back to the barn. Even the tin snowman had scraped paint off the porch on its earlier flight with the teacup and work gloves.

Sheeka hopped on her back legs when she sensed me coming. I’d swear her eyes were shining, but she had none. She lifted high her head as she trotted back to the pasture but hesitated and sniffed in all directions before she raised a hind leg.

I’d never seen her do that before (she usually squats) and wondered if she was still afraid. My dog had not glimpsed the fallen tree branches or the scraped paint on the porch.

But she’d felt the strong gust of wind that blew in on invisible wings before the storm. And heard its loud, eerie note in a wordless ballad of destruction and beauty and awe.

About Darrelyn Saloom

Darrelyn Saloom co-wrote My Call to the Ring: A Memoir of a Girl who Yearns to Box (Glasnevin, 2012) with world champion boxer, Deirdre Gogarty, but her pugilistic passions are confined to a keyboard. Darrelyn lives with her husband and various critters on a horse farm in south Louisiana, where she is working on a collection of personal essays and stories. To learn more, visit her website at or follow her on Twitter: @DarrelynSaloom
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29 Responses to Only a Wind Gust

  1. Carolyn says:

    Interesting way to get the adrenaline flowing in the early morning. 🙂
    I enjoy reading about your experiences on the farm. Looking forward to more stories from ” On the Farm”.

  2. It’s really remarkable, the things that animals can sense that we humans cannot. Or maybe we could, if we just paid more attention. Animals live in the present moment, never obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. It’s an important lesson and one we’d do well to learn from them. As always, you paint such beautiful pictures with your words.

  3. Darrelyn Saloom says:

    Thanks, Carolyn and Barbara. My critters are teachers and comedians.

  4. Ro Rainwater says:

    Felt that wind with you, D, and the thousand banties on the roof a-peckin’ away. I love wind, in all its forms from gentle to historic. Wind comforts me. Thanks for this!

  5. Darrelyn Saloom says:

    Thanks, Ro. The wind was exhilarating and scary that morning. I must be the chicken, and you’re the cat. 🙂

  6. LeAnne McBennett Guidry says:

    I love the way you involve all of my senses while I am reading this. I was so involved in hearing the gusts, seeing the clouds, and sensing the urgency, that I couldn’t help but smell the rain coming in…

  7. Darrelyn Saloom says:

    So glad you enjoyed, LeAnne. My senses were sure on full alert that morning.

  8. Dave Malone says:

    A friend of mine from college used to say, “Nature always wins.” I love the image of the teacup, snowman, and gloves flying off the porch….lovely post, D.

    • Darrelyn Saloom says:

      Dave Malone, you are the best first reader, editor, and friend. Thanks for tolerating my multple revisions and sticking with me till the end.

  9. I re-read this to my bo, Pat. He felt very much like I feel everytime I read any of your beautiful descriptive words Darrelyn. We both could actually feel that warning gust of wind and hear the pecking on the roof. Seeing the tin snowman sail with teacup made me hold my breath for the moment. Chicken running at your heels made us both laugh. Animals know alot more about the weather than we do. Bawk Bawk knew she’d be the next thing flying thru the air and Cats never would let us know how scared they are even if they’re terrified! How entertaining for those of us waking to 18 degrees and pavement with nothing flying thru the air. Thanks for the photos also.

  10. shirleyhs says:

    Your animal characters are as real as those Downton Abbey ones! This is first-rate writing, Darrelyn. You can go to school with chickens, horses, dogs, and cats. I’ll just sit in the back of the room and absorb their lessons, which is only possible through your beautiful, clear, and deceptively simple language.

    • Darrelyn Saloom says:

      Oh, wow, Shirley. If you only knew how addicted I am to Downton Abbey and the great lines written by Julian Fellowes. Maggie Smith delivers them better than anyone. You are way too kind, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed.

  11. Well done, Darrelyn. You’ve captured the moment perfectly, the wind’s fury and the warm companionship of the feathered and furry friends.

    • Darrelyn Saloom says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Donna. This is my first post on my new website, and I’m so glad you signed up. Love and hugs to Alex and the girls.

  12. Katy Richard says:

    As usual you have us living the moment with you and it’s a fun, thrilling ride!

  13. Dave Malone says:

    @Katy, no doubt, I love that Bawk Bawk, too. And, Darrelyn, ha! Sticking it out till the end was well worth it.

  14. Jenny Fickey says:

    It’s so enjoyable to read about the characters (and comedians) on your farm. Your words bring your stories to life even better than the lovely pictures. It’s the next best thing to sitting with you under the tin roof in a storm. I’m glad you and your critters stayed safe!

  15. George LaCas says:

    Hi Darrelyn, congrats on your new website, and great post above. I like the way you intersperse your photographs with the verbal detail. Looking forward to more installments of farm stories from LA.

  16. Darrelyn Saloom says:

    Thanks, George. So glad to have you onboard. 🙂

  17. Cindy Bullion says:

    Beautiful piece! I just love it – and you!

  18. cynthia says:

    Yes, loved reading this. And seeing the photos. I agree about the colorful one of Bawk-Bawk. Looking forward to more Stories from the Farm.

  19. Carrie says:

    I am reading this late Wed evening on my side porch listening to the rain! This story made me capture the moment & take in a memory!

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