We can see it and yet it and yet it always touches us. We can’t smell it and yet it always changes the aromas in our nostrils. It is an unseen force that changes the way we behave and it is always the topic of conversation wherever we go. What is this strange energy that holds a power over us all? Wind! When I landed on these shores, blown south by the north wind (or bura), I had no idea that any wind could be so important.
In fact, I didn’t even know that they had names. Apart from the warm southerly winds that blow across the Atlantic towards England I really didn’t understand just how important these weather conditions were. I can still vividly remember “When the jugo blows people will be moody and depressed,” echoing around me all those years ago. I thought it was, well fantasy. How wrong I was.
Belief that wind can affect our emotions and moods has been around for millennia. In a bid to comprehend these invisible influences, we have given them human and animal forms, and attributed meaning to their various guises. In ancient Greek mythology, the Anemoi are the four gods of the four cardinal winds: the Boreas (north), Eurus (east), Notus (south) and Zephyr (west). They might be bearded men, winged maidens or flying horses. This was all news to me.
However, I have a slightly different opinion on the winds. As by far the predominantly winds in the UK are south-westerly, or jugo I guess, I am more than used to this wind blowing all day long. This of course is the reason why rain and clouds are part of everyday life on the island I once called home. It also means that when the jugo blows in Dubrovnik I feel at home. “There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing,” once wrote the popular British hiker and writer Alfred Wainwright.
You know in advance that an umbrella will be about as useful as a fork in a sugar bowl when jugo blows, and yet every time it does the public garbage bins are full of inside out brollys. The moisture in the air, the constant cloud cover and the drops of rain are all music to my ears, I am literally singing in the rain. And instead of being depressed or suicidal I am energised and full of life. So whilst my normally jolly mother-in-law is complaining that “the bloody clothes will never dry,” or my wife is moaning because “it’s too wet to walk the dogs,” and everyone else is reaching for the Aspirin I am skipping through the puddles like a duck on water-skis. It would seem that the only positive side of jugo is the fact that you can air the feather quilt and that you can’t see how dirty the windows are.
In fact, if I were around in the times of the Republic of Dubrovnik I would have made the perfect “wet weather” Rector. For whilst all around me were deciding not to make any decisions I would be rolling them out like Trump on a busy day. Jugo just suits me fine!
And with ten days of the south winds predicted I am as happy as a wave that dances on the rolling sea. The same cannot be said for the bura, which cuts through me like a knife. Whilst my mother-in-law is filling her clothes line, my wife is running with the dogs, I am hiding like a mole.
So I guess I am a jugo freak. When the rest of the population is tucked away at home I am sucking up the moisture like human blotting paper. It just seems to revitalise my soul, and yes I know that sounds strange, but it’s oddly true. I am like one of those wind powered turbines that line the hills of Peljesac, recharging my batteries. I can hear the south wind buffeting the windows as I write, the sounds of the seas crashing into the shore and windows and doors banging shut all over the city. “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails,” wrote the American author Arthur Ward. I am simultaneously adjusting my sails and expecting it to change (just not to bura please!).