By Ryn Gargulinski
Whomever dubbed Chicago the “Windy City” had it all wrong. That nickname should have been reserved for Clovis, and other eastern New Mexico places with equally windswept plains, where someone once told me the wind whips so hard it blows over freight trains. (I believed them for months and refused to drive near the tracks for all of April.)
And the Chicago thing is all wrong twice. The Chicago Public Library tells us its home was nicknamed the “Windy City” not because of the virulent gusts from Mother Nature but because of Chicago politicians and supporters who spoke long and loud about their wonderful city.
They were dubbed “windbags” by some reporters as the folks were trying to plug Chicago for a site of a World’s Fair. This eventually did happen in 1893, but instead of wind gusts, it featured a man who hid in the background preying on young, unsuspecting women whom he murdered — but that’s another story altogether.
And no matter what the Chicago name origin, which should have resulted in something like “Windbag City,” the moniker is forever robbed from the Land of Enchantment.
Sources also say Florida did a similar thing with “The Sunshine State,” but that, too, is another story altogether.
The fact is, New Mexico has dibs on the windiness stuff. It even dates as far back as one American Indian myth from an indigenous tribe. According to the tale, which is not just full of hot air, the wind was an integral part in the world’s creation.
They say four gods got together and shook hands where a bunch of sweat formed. One of the hand-shakers, appropriately the creator god, rubbed his palms together and out fell a little brown ball, later known as Earth. But that brown round thing would have remained a teeny lump if wind didn’t go inside it to blow it up, not unlike a beach ball. And it would have remained rollicking around on some crazy axis system if it weren’t for the wind to stabilize the rollicking ball by blowing four giant posts to each directional point.
See how important the wind is?
It also makes the Mesalands Community College people happy in Tucumcari.
After all, they are looking to invest millions to build a massive wind turbine around campus. This project, of course, would blow over, if it weren’t for the constant whispering, or rather, screaming winds that make turbines turn.
And what about all those other people who rely on the wind for their living or entertainment? Sure, there aren’t many sailboats kicking around Clovis, but some may hook up sails to a skateboard. Or to pull their dogs on rollerskates.
The kite festival at Cannon Air Force Base would be a deflated event with the number of professional kite fliers going down like a lead zeppelin.
It would even affect the beauty industry. According to a totally nonscientific and fictional report, the wind makes for a great exfoliant on that deadened surface skin. And where would the hair gel people be without the promise of that “windswept look?”
The wind also makes money for the eyedrop industry as sales increase rapidly when dust and debris are blown into every eyeball. Contact lens sales also blow through the roof when that same dust and debris make people remove a lens in a red-eye frenzy only to have it blown off their fingertip in the middle of a field.
Hat companies make a mint with new sales when the wind whips off thousands of unsuspecting chapeaux that blissfully breeze away.
And just think about all the roofers, shingle makers, windsock manufacturers and those who make a living constructing iron roosters with directional points that spin around on red barn roofs.
How else would they go and put food on the table?
Yes, the wind is a beautiful thing, regardless of other myths that tell us it’s the wrath of Zeus or the haunting souls of the dead or something that goes and wrecks freight trains.
It is also amazing in its capacity, a force we call view with awe. It ensures the proliferation of fungus spores in a million-foot radius, makes flowers pop up from pollen gusted two towns over, and I even found a New Mexico license plate in my Northern California yard, about 2,000 miles away.
I think it was nestled beside a chunk of freight train.
Ryn Gargulinski is a former resident of eastern New Mexico. Contact her at: