According to the weather service, the south west wind at Stansted airport is only about 50km/h this evening but it feels a whole lot more on the ridge that runs north from Saffron Walden. The sight of trees being tousled and pushed around by the wind outside my window lured me out at dusk was falling.
It wasn’t in the least bit cold; and with the wind behind me it felt like wading downstream in a tropical river. The pressure was enough to knock me down into the mud a couple of times — it was fast growing dark, and the ground is still saturated from the snowfall. The ditch that runs alongside the track had about a foot and a half of snow in the bottom, glowing like polystyrene. So I flapped and waddled and scooted for about a mile. Coming back, though, was much worse than wading upstream. The first thing I noticed was the noise. I was now trudging straight back into the wind, and I couldn’t hear anything else: not my own breathing; not the sound of my own footsteps, nor any rustling from my clothes. It was strangely like a nightmare, especially because I was moving, very little for all the effort I was exerting. After about five minutes, I was fixed with a certainty that someone — something — was hurrying close behind. I looked, of course. Of course there was nothing. My eyes itched. They’re still itching; presumably the wind stripped all the tears away.
What must it be like to be a dog in a wind like that, or any other animal dependent on a sense of smell?