Having driven through Palm Springs several years ago, I was startled by the vastness of the ugliness of the fields of windmills down there. Here in the Columbia Gorge, we have been working for years on our own wind project: a supposed cash cow that mars the landscape daily with its rows of white giants and nightly with its ceaselessly blinking red lights. No longer is the night sky filled with stars and infinity, but rather glaring red reminders of the boundaries imposed by the constant sentinels.
Despite my distaste for our wind project, I have grown accustomed to the presence of the windmills. I even have to admit to a certain fondness for them. Please allow me to explain myself. I grew up in the Portland area, west of there really, and while my time was predominantly spent growing up in a subdivision, I was a mere 10-15 minutes away from the bliss of country and open spaces.
Growing up on the west side, it never actually occurred to me that there were places in the world where it didn't rain nine months out of the year. Not until moving to the east side for college were my eyes opened to the wonderful world of the dry side. Suddenly I was able to go outside every single day of the year. Even during the fall and winter it may rain some, but it always stopped at some point during the day and the out of doors were mine to be had. Now I had arrived: rural land and little rain. I knew I had found my place.
So here is the windmill correlation. I visit family in the Portland area rather frequently, but my spirits always lift when I leave the big city behind. Driving east, I wait in eager anticipation to see one thing. Just before I get to highway 97, there is a big curve to the right, then to left. On the start of the curve to the left, the tips of large blades emerge over the hilltops, slicing their way through the Gorge wind . . . and I know I am home.