The Mistral winds were predicted to reach up to 130 kilometers per hour today. "We have never had 130!" I exclaimed to Remi with just a tiiiny bit of anxiety rising in my voice. "Yes, we have," he responded without missing a beat, "on the night when we first arrived."
It was 1am. Remi had driven the 20 meters-cubed truck - packed to the gills with all of our belongings - down from Paris in 8 hours. We both were so exhausted from the day that we were nearly stuck after having taken a wrong way turn on a one way street in Arles. Our nerves were beyond shot and then we realized that there was no way that he was going to be able to back the truck into the tiny street in front of our house. I didn't know if I wanted to scream or to cry. As a saving gift from the gods, there was one parking space available left in the nearby lot. We took it, grabbed our Buddha, locked the truck and prayed for the best.
At the first step we were blasted backwards. I started to lose my footing until Remi grabbed my arm. A patrolling police car passed at that moment and we flagged them down, first to ask if they thought that the truck would be all right ("Not for long" was the reply) then to enquire if the force of the wind was normal. I remember that the police man shrugged and said, "Welcome to Arles" but that might be my memory playing games. We found that the hood of the truck had been ripped off from the roof the next morning. No one in Paris believed us when we told them it had been done by the wind.
Tonight, I can hear the Mistral breathing. At the equivalent of 81 miles per hour, it is roaring well past the minimum wind speed of a hurricane. There have been warnings at niveau orange through several regions in the South on the national news. Remi kindly took the dogs out this evening and the house is closed up tight. Red sky at night? It may be a sailor's delight but this landlubber will admire it from afar. Safe and sound, yes but I am also respectful of nature, always.