Something no one ever told me about before I moved up here, and which I never would have expected otherwise, is the wind. Twenty miles inland from the Pacific and yet daily we get these fantastic sea breezes whipping across the town.
Today as I was walking back from the gym the wind was in particularly fine form, tugging on the hem of my sweatshirt and pulling the sweat out of my clothes. I wasn’t the only one caught in its grip. First there was one, a lonely jaunt, end over end. Then a trickle, tumbling down the sidewalk. Suddenly there was flood, pushed by the force of the wind. Packing peanuts everwhere. Hundreds of them. Some took to the air and were swirled around in the eddies, but most of them rolled along the ground, unable or unwilling to gain escape velocity.
All of the grounded peanuts were pushed into the street and at that point the wind subsided and let them rest for a while in the gutter, looking for all the world like drifts of snow.
It was somewhat surreal, seeing “snow” in Sonoma County, but that image didn’t last long. The wind picked up again (as it always does) and the peanuts were picked up as well. They were scattered across the road and tumbled down it. The swarm of them, traveling down the street the way they were, looked for all the world like a marathon as viewed from a very great height. The rolling motion of the peanuts resembled the bobbing of jogging heads and shoulders. There were different packs of them. Quick and steady in the front, slower and clumsier in the rear. For a split second I almost believed that it was a race, then came back to reality and laughed out loud at the peanuts caught in the wind.
And then the light turned green and the traffic came. Again, for just a moment, I was back at the race and was horrified as the cars bore down on the hapless runners. And again, my imagination stepped aside and I knew them for what they were. But that didn’t make it any less disturbing to hear the peanuts popping beneath the tires or see them flying off the windshields. They’d been very lovely being blown down the street, stark against the asphalt.
Ah, well. As I said, the wind comes every day. Maybe one of those days the peanuts will be back for their run and I’ll get to see who wins the race.