W is for Wind
Everything I've read about Tibet - and at this point, that's getting to be quite a list - invariably talks about the landscape, and the weather. This is understandable: when your country is nicknamed "the roof of the world", it's for some very good reasons.
Take this, for example:
|Photo courtesy of http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/the-roof-of-the-world-melting/|
|Photo courtesy of http://phoebettmh.blogspot.com/2011/06/tibet-roof-of-world-om-mani-padme-hum.html|
|Photo courtesy of http://nickykelvin.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/the-roof-of-the-world-tibet/|
I mean, I can only imagine, looking at these, that the natural world plays a huge role in the life of most Tibetans.
This was the jumping-off point for my next snippet, which takes place, of course, during the Tibetan lifetime, around 600 CE. I will say that I'm not sure that this is going to make it into the book, but I'm posting it anyway, because it's about wind, and that is today's theme, after all:
It was a cut-wind day. Tashi felt it as soon as he opened the roof door, and rose into the dawn light; felt it on his hand as it held on, in the joints, the slice and cold cutting of the air. He called for his wife, and as his mouth made her name, he remembered. She died, a long time back, too long a time for the remembering to hurt. It was his duty, once hers, to wake at first light, and climb to the roof, and make the offerings.But the wind. The wind was cutting, not a good omen. He hovered on the ladder, the top of his head just edging into the sky, and thought. It would be better, maybe, to skip the offering, and retreat into the house, and not let the wind slash him (and he laughed to think this, because his brothers – his dutiful, stupid brothers – would pale and faint to know he even dared to wonder about not lighting the fire). But then again, if it was a bad day already, he needed help.Tashi sighed, and forced his legs up the ladder. Hips creaking, another bad sign, maybe just age, but maybe the day, too. He lit the yak-dung as quickly as he could, shielding the sparks from the wind, and burned some dried fruit in the flame. The smoke lifted, a curling sweet-smelling flag. With the offering came the feeling better, as it always did; the warm spreading light in his limbs, the easing open of his chest. He nodded to himself, and even dared to stay on the ladder a few minutes longer, resting his arms on the roof, and watching. Watching as the other fingers of smoke rose all around him, thin black lines against the blue-ing sky and the high wall of mountains, as his family woke and climbed and prayed, and the sweetness of their offerings – barley, fruit, butter – filled the air, and softened the edge of the wind.He was feeling so much better that he almost didn't see it. Almost. Tashi was keen-eyed, though, always had been, and age had left his eyes alone even as it pushed down on everything else. So through the good feelings, and the ease, and the rush of color over the snowy peaks, he caught the wind in its moment of spite. A slice; a quick lashing; right at the smoke over the Big House. No more reaching finger; no more flag of offering. The smoke tattered, and wavered, and broke.Tashi sucked in a breath and felt the cut hit his lungs, cold and sharp, and withdrew into the house so fast he almost fell off the ladder. He stood at the bottom, panting, pressing a hand to his chest; now he knew.It was a cut-wind day, because it was a day of death.