Sep 16 2010

good windmill hunting

Okay, I have a confession to make: I am in love.

With windmills.

And yes, I know that technically these are wind turbines, and technically a lot of people strongly dislike them. But love isn’t technical, it knows no boundaries, it isn’t rational or logical or afraid to be itself just because some other people don’t like it. So there you have it. I am in love. I want one. In my backyard. And yes, I am aware that my neighbors may not go along with that.

I live in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, a beautiful, hilly area dotted with small lakes and fabulous vistas and acres and acres of farmland.

And recently, along the route to our cabin that just happens to be nestled up in those hills, a new crop has popped up. A crop of giant sentinels. And the very first time I saw them there, perched along the horizon, I was hooked. It was love at first sight. I drove over the crest of hill and there they were, spinning slowly, towering over the small town that up until then had been known for its grape pies. Now, at least for me, there is a much bigger attraction.

I have been to our cabin several times since that day, and each time have had the sudden urge to veer off the road and head towards these turning towers, wanting to stand beneath one and see just how tall it really is, what kind of sound it makes, to just be near it. You know, that love thing.

So over Labor Day Weekend, I had a ton of work to do. I know, you’re supposed to relax on Labor Day, but that wasn’t going to be possible for me. My family made a plan to go to our cabin that Sunday night, and I agreed to take a few hours off and meet them there for dinner. And then I made a plan to leave an hour early and go on a quest, to finally find the road that the windmills were on. To meet them, face to face.

Easier said than done.

I tried to look up the information beforehand, but I couldn’t really pinpoint the location. The area they are in is very rural, dirt roads, some labeled, some not, and I had no idea what the name of the road they are on is called, but I figured, how hard could it be? They’re tall, right? I’ll just follow them.

And of course I got lost because these are small mountains after all, and there aren’t that many roads that cut directly across and I had to wind up and down and down and around and backtrack and traverse seasonal-use-only, very bumpy, dirt roads, and they look a lot closer than they actually are because, oh my, they ARE huge, and an hour and a half later, I was finally on the right road, which I only knew because I could see one at the top of the hill just before me. At this point I was already half an hour late for dinner with my family, and not sure how far out of my way I had traveled, but I had my eye on the prize and no way was I turning back now.

I passed these on the way up that hill:

And I discovered, later, that none of these photos give you a sense of the scale, the majestic quality, the space and height and mystery, or the tears that were in my eyes. Silly to mist up over windmills, I know. Just call me sentimental. Or weird. Either one works for me.

That is corn growing there, just beneath them, corn that stood higher than my head.

And when I reached the top of that hill, they were spread out before me for miles, dotting fields of corn and meadows filled with clover and perched at the crests of hills. 20 or 30 or 40 all told. And the one I had seen from the bottom of the hill had a little dirt road leading right up to it. So I parked my car and I rolled down the windows and I listened, because I had expected them to be loud. But I could barely hear them at all.

And then I got out of my car and stood there, and I felt peace. That’s what it is, that is the draw. They make me feel peaceful. I walked my way closer and closer and I’m sure that my mouth was hanging wide open just then, although I was lucky and no flies flew in.

And then I was there right at the base of the one I had been chasing for miles and I could walk right up and touch it, and I could take all the pictures I wanted, although still, none of them convey how tall it really is.

And then, of course, just when I was having a moment, standing there staring up at the sky, my phone rang and it was my family saying, “where are you? we are waiting on you for dinner,” and I had to say goodbye my new friends, I had to walk away and leave them there to guard the valley, alone.

But one day soon I’m going back, and next time I’m bringing a picnic and I’m not going to answer my phone and I’m going to sit there on a blanket and listen as the wind whispers down through those blades.

And I might even sing to myself, a little.

But this time, I’ll try not to cry.