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These Dakota Winds Must be German

Balcom, Sue B. "These Dakota Winds Must be German." Mandan News, n.d.


A wild turkey scratched its way form one end of the yard to the next, looking for stray bird seed or corn from the farmer's field, fighting every step of the way walking into the wind.

Now turkeys are fairly close to the ground, especially with their heads down pecking through the weeds, and still you could see the wind ruffled feathers in spite of the fact the bird was holding those large wings as close to its body as possible.

With temperatures near or above 60 degrees a couple of Sundays ago, it would have been an exemplary day on the plains; however the wind was so strong, it was hard to notice.

Tuesday morning, however, was another absolutely balmy before the wind with gusts of up to 6o miles per hour began to blow.

Think about 10 or so years back. Since it's, November, it could be snowing and those wind would have whipped up a dandy blizzard. Alas, we have no more snow in November, and temperatures that make me think it's closer to the vernal equinox than the winter solstice. The only noticeable effect of winter coming this month would be the shortening daylight hours.

My mother does not like the wind; my husband does not like the wind; most people complain about the wind... I, on the other hand, don't mind the occasional wind. I watch what it does to leaves and paper. I allow it to "blow the stink off me." Remember how your children smelled like fresh air when they came in from playing outside on a breezy day? Heaven on earth.

As I observed the wildlife and weeds bending to the wind last weekend, I had a thought the wind in North Dakota has got to be German.

My family really loves to work. There's a kind of philosophy that if you are going to be doing something, work included, you must give it your all.

So, the wind across the plains reminds me of my own family as it scrubs vigorously across the land most every day. Since the wind was probably here first, maybe my family takes its lesson from the wind instead of the other way around.

Like my family, there are gentle breezes at times, but for the greater portion of the week, the focus is to beat the dirt (in the house and in the fields) into submission. I had heard that the Germans have a saying, "Arbeit macht das Leben suess." My grandmother

actually said it to me on fine summer day in English translated the phrase means "work makes life sweet."

Like windy days on the plains, when the wind quit blowing, or in the case of the German the days' work was finished, the rewards begin.

Everyone knows when the wind does not blow in this state, there's an unnatural feeling of peace over every living thing. You can hear the birds and crickets singing and the voices of Canadian Geese flying overhead. beer footsteps in the tall grass rustle quietly in the distance. It's awesome.

The Germans were more prone to making a bit of noise when they celebrated the end of a workweek. My Uncle Art, who passed away about 12 years age, told me about a wedding party, a "Hochzeit," that lasted so long, the priest actually asked them to go home and sober up because Sunday was a day away and he expected to them in church.

Besides the homemade sausages, kuchen and pickles, standard wedding fare included Hochzeit Schnaaps. Rather than explain how that is made, I'll just say this. If you have ever had it, you will never forget it. To the rest of you, maybe you want to count your blessings.

The Kinston Trio may have called the wind Mariah, but out here on the plains of North Dakota, we call the wind Martha or Magdalene or Matilda.

Reprinted with permission of the Mandan News.

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