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.
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.
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.