This is a small portion of a much longer piece that I have been working on for years . . .
Chicago has nothing on west Texas for wind. In west Texas the wind never stops; each day it is only a matter of how hard it is blowing. As plants reach a height of a few inches they begin to lean slightly to the northeast with the prevailing winds. The few trees are conspicuously misshapen, those in protected areas only slightly so, but those growing in the open look as if they had received the attention of a slightly mad tree trimmer who left one side of the trunk completely bare.
The wind shapes more than the plant life. A constant dose of anything has to have an effect. Perhaps in the city itself the effect is not as strong for the there are other sounds and activities which make the usual little breeze to be unnoticeable after a while. But outside of town on the sparsely located homes that are laughingly referred to as ranches, the wind cannot be escaped. It is ever present and adds to the squint lines around the eyes that are a result of the harsh sun.
With the sun, the wind steals all moisture from the land and everything that lives on it. Native plants must be a hardy breed with a thick protective layer to contain its juices and a strong stem to resist bending to the ground. The small amounts of rain must be quickly sucked into the plants before the wind has a chance to pull it back from the quickly drying sand. There is rarely any left for the animals, many of whom spend their entire lives without ever drinking water. All of their moisture comes from the plants and seeds they eat. Horses and cattle on the dry, wind-swept ranches must be given water daily to survive. There are no open tanks of water as you see in other parts of Texas for the wind quickly drains any puddle of water.
In the wide sky, the rain clouds can be seen for many miles. The rain can be seen falling for thousands of feet heading for the ground, but here, too, the wind steals. For the black streams of rain heading for the ground often get lighter and lighter as they fall until the winds have stolen all but a few drops which fall with a plop on the dusty sand. The few drops soon stop though the rain can be seen falling from the clouds all around before it, too, is stolen by the wind.
Like water slowly dripping, the wind can drive one mad. In west Texas, madness is not a stranger. With the heat, the desolation, and the wind, the mind has many things to battle. It is especially maddening at night for as the land becomes quieter, the sounds of the wind are more noticeable. Even when light, winds chase around the corners and hidden places of the mind, finding every crack and opening until they fill one with a special kind of madness. It is a madness that causes one to talk to themselves, to stare blindly for hours at the horizon, to hoard money beneath mattresses, and to listen to radio preachers crying from dusk to dawn.
The wind’s effect can be seen in the people, not only from the glint of craziness in their eyes, but from their bodies which with age resist the normal thickening and plumpness. In west Texas, the sun and the wind cause them to become thin with dry skin and wrinkles that hang in folds from their cheeks. West Texans become raisins, wrinkled and drying with the breeze.