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The Messenger Wind March 23, 2016

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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The riverboat whistles echo from the wrong direction, bouncing off the two-story gutted shell next door on the Lake side, resonating perhaps in the neighboring emptiness like the body of a guitar. When this happens, I am always up and out the door to taste the weather that brings the distant whistles. The wind blows from the river, carrying the sounds over two miles, assuming I hear the Algiers Ferry. The ships on the river are guided by radar like aircraft these days, and the old signals are not used by the ships sliding around the blind corner at Algiers Bend. The ferry, however, always sounds its blasts before it enters the stream, and it is a river wind, a ferry wind I feel in the street just outside my door: heavy with water and chill, just the sort of breeze the ferry whistles up for itself in making the crossing. If I were standing on the railing next to my motorbike as I did 30 years ago, I would smell the earth in the water, the silt of dozens of rivers, with just a note of oil and creosote, and ozone churned up by the propellers.  The street breeze has no aroma but is thick with the feel of water, not a dampness on the skin as much as a weight, the sensation of the force that invisibly propels the sailboat even as it clocks and slows the wind. as it settles into its own particular, vectored wind. I listen. Unless they have reintroduced the steam engine, I know it was not a train. I know that not only from the familiar, deep and full-bodied Calliope note but I know it from the messenger wind blowing north west up Esplanade from the levee. If I don’t hear it again for half an hour, I will know it was the ferry.

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