Map of the earth showing the prevailing wind directions near the equator and middle latitudesA zephyr is a light wind or a wind from the west. There were mythical gods named after these winds, and in modern history, we have named all sorts of things after the zephyr from trains to planes, businesses to sports teams, automobiles and motorcycles. What is it about the west wind that is so appealing? Is it the name or does it have something to do with the western connotation it carries?

For myself, two directions have always held a good feeling for me. North and West. If I am traveling in either direction, I feel good about it. North mainly because I love to go north, especially to the family cabin or perhaps a Canadian fishing adventure. Heading west gives me a sense of adventure, a feeling of good portent and discovery. Places to see, things to do, and most importantly for me, getting away from people.

Perhaps I feel some sort of bond with those that headed west into the wilderness. Pioneers who went into the west to build new places to live, build their lives and eke out more than an existence from the land, but to create families and communities.

The Zephyr is a wind that comes out of the west. It is a favorable wind and brings good things. Rain for farmers, fair weather for those on picnics or camping. In the winter, the west wind can bring snow and if you like to ski, snowboard or snowmobile, that's just one more good thing. A favorable wind. Heading west, into the wind, I can smell the adventure, feel the air in my hair and my heart is lifted. I know good things await me in the west, even though I can't really name them.

In North America, most weather moves from west to east. Once when I was out in the woods and a long way from camp, I lost my compass somehow. It was in my pocket, attached to piece of rawhide like it always was. But it was missing when I reached for it. 

If you've never had that ill feeling that goes with not knowing which way to go, you can't understand how disconcerting it can be, especially when it means sleeping under the rain clouds that have been spitting on you all day.

Moss on the base of a tree grows all the way around in most places. On some trees you can find that more moss will grow on the north side, but in practical terms, it is an unreliable way to find north.

Taking stock of my situation, I felt the breeze on my face and the mist it carried with it. Then I remembered the weather report that morning--misty drizzle and a light westerly wind. Suddenly I knew which way to go, because I knew the wind was coming from the west. I started my hike out and an hour later emerged on the road, a bit off from where I had planned to be, but no longer facing a long cold night in the woods without shelter.

Saved by the Zephyr.

Photo Credit: Prevailing Winds via Wikimedia Commons