Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Haunting music carries over water

At dusk, as I began my evening stroll in White Rock at the bear statue on East Beach, the distant sound of music drifted faintly across the water.

Was it someone playing a flute on the beach? No, the tide was flooding. A boat? But there were none in view.

By the time I drew level with the eponymous white rock, and saw this Buddha-like figure apparently meditating on top of it, the music was closer and more audible.

Perhaps, I thought, someone was playing the Chinese zither, continuing to celebrate the Moon Festival recently held on the beach.

As I drew level with the pier, I understood that the source of the sound was halfway out the long wooden structure.

Toby, the musician, was playing a soft-voiced electric Gibson. The music, nearly all his own compositions, floated out over the dusk beach and haunted my very soul.

A Colder War by Charles Cumming

Image from Amazon

This latest thriller by Charles Cumming again features MI6 chief Amanda Levine and her friend Tom Kell, a hard-drinking middle-aged spy with a bad reputation he'd like to live down.

The plot is intricate, and the settings ground readers in Teheran, Istanbul and London. The evocative but pitiless language delivers the same hard message as A Foreign Country.

The world of the spy is a cold country. Working for "the firm" corrupts the employees, who become inured to the need to lie. The eternal ingrained habits of distrust and secret-keeping erode the personality to the point where it becomes all but impossible to have normal relationships.

Yet where there's life, there's hope. Thomas Kell, now in his forties, ousted from MI6 and divorced, is deeply affected by meeting Rachel, the daughter of a dead agent. For her, he is able to pry his heart open enough to hope for love and redemption.

But can he? Kell was..."back in the dreary routine of twenty-first-century flying: the long agitated queues; the liquids farcically bagged, the shoes and belts pointlessly removed." With these few words Cumming evokes the contemporary normalization of fear and suspicion at the same that he conveys Agent Kell's feelings of drab defeat, even as he undertakes a new assignment that offers him some promise of returning to the fold. When Kell confronts a CIA colleague whom he blames in part for his disgrace, (but of course there's always the guilt too), he is taken "into a tight bear-hug embrace with all the warmth and authenticity of a Judas kiss."

Masterfully, the author displays the disconnect between words and feelings. Tom Kell notices how "the relaxed, carefree way in which [Jim Chater] said: 'Oh, yeah?' betrayed a profound disquiet" to his observant enemy, an ally from the CIA. And even from a distance, Kell observes in Cecilia Sandor's upper lip "the absurd and unmistakable swell of collagen, her vast breasts out of all proportion to her reedy frame." In this story, what you see is rarely genuine.

Filtered through Tom's thoughts, Cumming describes good agents as "often bright, ambitious, emotionally needy," alongside the qualities needed to run them: "a mixture of flattery, kindness and empathy." Because secrecy breeds intimacy, he likens Vauxhall Cross to a bordello, where over nocturnal drinks, officers discuss their work with other officers, the only ones they can talk to, and then "one thing [leads] to another."

Yet even among agents, who are obliged to spy even on their colleagues when a mole is suspected, , there are still behaviours that are considered beyond the pale. People caught "running background checks on a new girlfriend, for example, or looking for personal information about a colleague-- would quickly be shown the door."

Chillingly, as they discuss the timing of whether to try to catch the mole first or to tell their CIA colleagues the bad news, C (Amelia) and Kell refer euphemistically to the potential consequences of holding out on Langley, the likelihood that a Red Cross convoy will be destroyed:

"Collateral damage?" Amelia said, as though she wanted Kell to take responsibility for it.

"Collateral damage," he replied.  

This scene evokes the memory of the possible foreknowledge Britain had before the bombing of Coventry. If indeed they had it, the intelligence, gained at Bletchley Park, could not be used, lest the other side learn their code was broken. In wartime, there was no doubt that numerically speaking, this strategy saved lives. It also allowed individual deaths that could have been prevented.

Humans are not equipped to make such decisions; they shouldn't be required to do it. And the ones who willingly choose to work for organizations that expect them to are either sociopaths to begin with [like the villainous double agent in this story], or must sacrifice aspects of their humanity that most of us consider essential for normal functioning.

In war time, secret intelligence is understandably necessary. Yet society continues to create and populate such organizations, and individuals compete to staff them, even in times of supposed peace.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rabbits and Roses

On the deck of a footbridge across the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, the art work reflects the context of locality.

The wild rose is the emblem of the province of Alberta, and the snowshoe hare is a very jumpy prairie rabbit with powerful hing legs.

If a parallel footbridge existed to cross the Fraser River were similarly decorated, it could have a dogwood flower and a very different looking rabbit: a cute little brown one.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Brooklyn film at VIFF fulfilled its promise

Image from VIFF

It's 1952, and Eilis, freshly arrived from the small town of Enniskorthy on the Irish Sea, has arrived in Brooklyn and begun work as a salesgirl (pre-arranged by an Irish priest) at Bertolucci's Department Store in New York. The story is based on the wonderful novel of the same name by the Irish writer Colm Toibin.

Inevitably, films are different from the books that inspire them, so one never knows quite what to expect. The story, simplified for the screen, kept close to the original story of Eilis's reluctant emigration, engineered by others in what they believe are her best interests. Of course, life brings up the unexpected, and emigration has inevitable effects.

The hard choices that this young woman must make inspired moments of laughter. Though Eilis remains brave, I was not the only one in the audience to shed tears for her, especially over the poignant but inescapable consequences of leaving her homeland to finally belong, as she says, neither in America nor Ireland, but "somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean."

There is still a chance to see this film at the VIFF, and I've a hunch it will making the rounds of certain select theatres after the festival.

The eroding side of the river

I spent the latter part of my childhood in Terrace, not far from a sharp bend in the Skeena River. At that bend stood a dairy, with a big farm house and plenty of pastureland for the cattle to graze.

The river was a source of endless fascination for us children. After each spring flood, we hurried down to see what new configuration of sandbars the rising waters had formed.

We often followed a trail along the bank that led to the boundary of Frank Brothers Dairy.

Over time, the pastureland shrank as the river claimed more land with each flood year. Many years later, upon strolling down to the river, I was shocked to see how much land was gone and how close the old farmhouse now stood to the bank.

Standing beside me on a footbridge by the North Saskatchewan in August, my daughter looked up at the house in the picture and commented, "That house is going to go within the next few years."

I doubted her prediction until she explained the river's flow. Because the current flows faster there, the outside elbow of a bend is the eroding side of the river. When we turned to the the inside of the bend, it was obvious how the slower current there had piled up sand and silt in the shallows. 

Looking back at the attractive home on the brow of the hill, she pointed out how the wooden posts that held up the porch had already been braced after falling downward due to erosion. At last I understood the reason for the steady loss of the Frank pastures to the Skeena, in my old hometown.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gumbo, with feet

Walking in William Hawrelak Park in Edmonton with my adult daughter in August, I was excited to spy the kind of mud that as children we called gumbo. Yasemin is wearing a pair of light canvas shoes -- a kind unsuitable for stepping on gumbo, though her buying them got a needy person a free pair.

My mother used to be bothered by gumbo when it stuck to our shoes and clothes, but we kids loved it. The dry cracked layer on top formed fine "cookies" for our "bakery."

Picking up the slabs of mud to put on leaf plates was just as easy as taking real cookies from the oven. This year, during the protracted dry spell, the soil cracked in our garden here in Surrey. This was abnormal for our climate zone, where the ground usually stays moist and spongy year round.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tearing up the tarmac at Edmonton's Blatchford Field

Blatchford Field in Edmonton was Canada's first municipal airport. Howard Blatchford was an air ace in World War II. This Wing Commander died aged 31 when his Spitfire went down in the English Channel while he was escorting bombers to Amsterdam. Blatchford's father Keith was the Mayor of Edmonton; it was he who created the city airport and for whom it was named. The Aviation Museum is open, but the historic airport is closed. In late August the bulldozers were working tearing up the tarmac to turn the land to other uses. The lines on the memorial panels (one seen at the at the left) are from "For the Fallen," a poem by Lawrence Binyon. One line of the oft-used Remembrance Day poem appears on each of the panels of the memorial tablet at the gate of the Museum: 
"...They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Max Ward and Wardair

Image: vintage Wardair post card from Offer
 
Max Ward was an RCAF flyer who became a bush pilot after the war. In 1953, he bought a de Havilland Otter. Based in Yellowknife, he established Wardair as a cargo carrier and began to transport heavy equipment. After moving to Edmonton, Wardair began offering charter flights to Europe, and was the first to offer package holiday flights to Hawaii.

Ward's business philosophy meant giving his passengers top-notch service at the lowest possible prices. He was directly involved in every aspect of his airline and maintained a close connection with his employees. His individual personality was very much part of his brand; for instance, he named his jets after other bush pilots.

I well recall my first flight on Wardair, which happened also to be my first flight to Europe. In those days, passengers were treated like royalty, not crime suspects. Complimentary wine and delicious meals were served Royal Doulton porcelain dishes with stylish cutlery.

After landing in Prestwick, I took the bus to Glasgow, gazing at the rooflines and chimneys, so different from those at home. Once in the city, I had several hours to wait for the night train to Euston. I climbed the stone steps to the art gallery, astonished to notice to see how they, as well as the stone stairs leading to all the buildings around me, were dented by centuries of passing feet.

I'd heard of jet lag, but never experienced it. Overcome by a sudden desire to sleep, I dozed off while sitting on the grass in the sunny public park and woke mortified. Fortunately, the excitement of having flown safely over the polar route in just over 8 hours and arrived on an unfamiliar continent soon overcame the mortification of wrinkled clothing.

Max Ward was an innovative businessman who participated in the growth and development the airline industry. Wanting to provide consumer choice, and reasonable prices, he was a longtime proponent of deregulating airlines, and this finally happened in 1988.

Native Edmontonian Max Ward is now in his nineties. For his contributions to Canadian aviation, He has been awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence, the Order of Icarus, the Order of Canada and many other awards. An NFB film was made about him and can now be seen on You Tube.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

Image from Veterans Affairs Canada

In 1939, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand signed The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to train pilots and crew for service overseas. About half the air crew used in British and Allied operations, including many Canadians, were trained by the BCATP.

Far from the theatre of war, Canadians began work at once, establishing 107 pilot training schools and related facilities. As well as pilots, the schools trained wireless operators, navigators, bomb aimers, and flight engineers. The scheme eventually graduated 131,000 trained personnel, earning for Canada the epithet "aerodrome of democracy" from US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Long before the US entered the war, WWI veteran pilot Billy Bishop set up a recruiting centre for Americans at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Parliament passed an Order in Council to ensure that American pilot trainees would not be required to swear allegiance to the King. By the time Pearl Harbour was bombed by Japan in 1941, about 6000 Americans were serving in the RCAF. A couple of thousand of these returned home to join the US Air Force, but many more (about 5200 in all) stayed on in the RCAF through the war.

Early on, US planes had to be purchased for training. Since American neutrality meant they could not be flown to Canada, they were flown by US pilots to Canadian border, then pulled across by horses and ferried by local pilots to their final destinations.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Vintage gear to wear in the air

Along with plenty of aircraft and stories, the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton has a lot of vintage gear worn by pilots of the past. Some interesting bits can be seen below.


 

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Early Bell helicopter

The Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton has a Bell 47 helicopter on display. This rather primitive looking craft was inspired by the visionary rotor aircraft proponent, Tommy Fox, and made up of scrounged parts.

Tommy built and flew his own plane right after he completed his aviation training in 1930 in Vancouver. In 1942 he became a ferry pilot for RAF Ferry Command. Ferry pilots flew aircraft destined for war across the Atlantic to Britain.

Fox brought the first helicopters to Edmonton in the 1940s. His company, Associated Airways, specialized in oil exploration services and flying in to hard-to-access areas in the Far North. He supplied airlift for the construction of the DEW line.

The name of the company changed to Associated Helicopters, and this eventually merged with Canadian Helicopters, forming one of the largest "chopper" firms in the world.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Noorduyn Norseman -- a northern workhorse

The Noorduyn Norseman was designed by a Dutchman named "Bob" Noorduyn, who had once worked in England for Sopwith.

With a partner, he started Norseman Aircraft in Montreal in 1934. They produced utility cargo planes suitable for use in the Far North.

This plane was used by the RCAF and then by Associated Airways. The name inscribed on the side is Chuck MacLaren. A long time volunteer for the Alberta Aviation Museum, he spent hundreds of hours on its restoration.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Love's Labours Lost closes at Bard on the Beach


Tonight was the season's last performance of Love's Labours Lost at Bard on the Beach. One of the best moments was when an actor spoke through a charming little Christopher Gaze doll, as if he were a ventriloquist. And so delightful that after a morning of blustery wind and rain, the weather cleared and the city put on her prettiest aspect to celebrate the final show, a charming musical version.

Avro, but not Arrow

That's a mean-business aircraft, isn't it. It's an Avro CF100, called a Canuck. This fighter jet was developed and built during the Cold War and used to bolster NATO and NORAD forces.

The Arrow was another story. CBC called the story of the Arrow the closest thing our "industry has to a love story and a murder mystery." It was developed, but mysteriously, never went into production, though the prototypes worked well.

This is one of the varied fleet of vintage airplanes now on display at the Alberta Aviation Museum.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

From Hell to Breakfast

From Hell to Breakfast. When I saw the book title in the Alberta Aviation Museum, I did a double take. It was one of those moments when you leap to an understanding of something that you've never consciously thought of before.

The last time I heard the phrase was probably when my father said it, and he died back in 1989. Like D-day, this expression was one of many that originated in WWII, a history that slowly disassociated from the words.

Because of research and writing I've been doing recently, I had a sudden insight about the meaning. Bomber pilots flew their deadly raids at night, losing their brothers in arms and getting their planes shot up. Survivors returned at dawn, then  ate a good breakfast before sleeping through the day to prepare for the next night's hellish mission.

Words and phrases enter the language constantly. As time passes, their original meanings are forgotten. New generations still use the expressions, but the stories behind them are lost in the mists of time. I found several definitions of this phrase online, and one origins forum that had the meaning, but no clear or accurate sense of the origin. The site did quote Steinbeck as having used it the phrase in 1939, which could support my idea. By the time the Internet arrived, fifty years had passed and the origin of this expression was mostly forgotten.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bush Pilots Moss Burbidge and Grant McConachie

Canada's Bush Pilots played a significant role in the development of the country's aviation history. Like Canadian bush pilot Wilfrid "Wop" May, Yorkshire born Maurice Burbidge went by the nickname of "Moss." This outstanding aviator was a bomber pilot and flying instructor for the Royal Flying Corps in World War I. Between the wars, he flew commercial aircraft out of Edmonton. During WWII, he trained pilots for an RCAF flying school in Edmonton.

Grant McConachie began his life as a bush pilot in 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression. Undeterred by recent cancellations of airmail contracts, he started business with a single Fokker, transporting fish from Cold Lake, Alberta. A decade later, he was heading Yukon Southern Air Transport. Twelve planes served Fort McMurray and the Yukon. 

In 1941, the CPR bought his company, along with nine other bush flying firms, and this became the nucleus of the future Canadian Pacific Airlines. A proponent of expanding air service beyond Canada's borders, McConachie became president of CPA and successfully lobbied the government to allow it to expand service to include Pacific routes. 

The expressway leading to YVR in Vancouver is named Grant McConachie Way, after this intrepid pioneering flyer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

This Mosquito has more than a whine and a bite

The de Havilland Mosquito, nicknamed the "Mozzie," was a wooden warplane developed by the British during World War II. I found it a chilling experience to see the guns in the nose and belly of this aircraft, not to mention the painting on the side representing the kills of enemy planes. This particular model was not completed in time to serve in the war, but was used for survey work in Kenya. Later it fell into disuse and was finally refurbished to be placed in the Alberta Aviation Museum.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wop May plane still in the air at Alberta Aviation Museum

The tough little ski plane once flown by the pioneering bush pilot Wilfrid "Wop" May is on display at the gate of the Alberta Aviation Museum. May and other bush pilots initiated air service to the Far North, bringing needed supplies and ferrying patients on early "mercy flights."

Edmonton City Centre Airport, Canada's first municipal aviation facility, opened in 1927 and served the city and region for nearly a century before closing in November 2013.

The old hangar contains a variety of fascinating historical displays, including refurbished aircraft and various replicas. Along the side of the building stands a row of historic planes. At the back other old aircraft are being restored. The remaining tarmac of the historic Blatchford Field is being torn up in preparation for new uses.

Among the many fascinating aircraft stories is that of Vic and Renee, two Junkers Larsens, German warplanes from WWI. Originally handed over to the Allies as part of a war reparations agreement, these were eventually brought to North America by Imperial Oil for service in the Far North. They were flown from New York to Edmonton by Wop May and three other pilots before being refitted for their first delivery of men and cargo to Norman Wells, Northwest Territories.

May Airlines was Canada's first commercial airline venture.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Turtle Rock Effigy -- a maze with First Nations elements

Officially titled the Turtle Rock Effigy, this work of art by Leah Dorion stands on the hillside overlooking the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton.

Among many First Nations, Turtle symbolizes Mother Earth, with North America her back.

This work of art combines the turtle image with the ancient Celtic labyrinth, acknowledging the historic relationship between Canada's First Nations and European descendants.

Pondering a question? Entering at the tail, follow the path through the labyrinth, and face the four corners en route. This walking meditation may uncover some answers.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Gate of Happy Arrival

Gate of Happy Arrival, announces the sign that signals the entrance to Edmonton's Chinatown.

To commemorate the long history of Chinese in the city, Edmonton also boasts an attractive Chinese Garden. Overlooking the river valley, it is located in Louise McKinney Park.

This park is aptly named for one of the Famous Five suffragists who helped make Canadian women "persons" under the law.

                                        

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hopeful about hay

Hay along the Yellowhead presages a winter of plenty for Alberta stock.

A severe drought in the province in  2012 caused a severe feed shortage, with serious consequences for herds. Ranchers and dairy farmers were devastated by the lack of winter fodder and healthy animals were put down because there was no feed for them.

This year the summer drought in BC could also affect hay supplies. Let's hope its effects are not too severe.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The eye of the storm

Image from Rice University

The eye of the storm is the still point in the centre where nothing moves.

The eye of the storm is a commonly used metaphor. A place of peace, silence and magical stillness, it usually refers to a false or temporary period of calm.

The central eye has one major disadvantage as a refuge: the only way out of the storm is through it.

The Eye of the Storm is also the title of a novel by Patrick White, and a movie starring Charlotte Rampling, Judi Davis and Geoffrey Rush. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pamperos

Image from voile.org

The Pamperos gain their name from the South American Pampas, the high central plateau that stretches from the Atlantic to the Andes.

These cold polar winds blow from the southwest or south across the pampas of  Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. In winter, between May and August, they cause rapid and marked drops in temperature. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Southerly Buster

Image from Australian government

Southerly Busters, also known to Sydneysiders as Southerly Bursters, are fierce winds that roar up the coast of New South Wales between October and February. Gusts are greater than 29 knots or 89 kph. Within an hour, the temperature drops by 10 to fifteen degrees.

A roll cloud like the one seen in the picture is not always a precursor to these winds. Often they come with little or no warning. About five of these hit Sydney every year, usually showing up in late afternoon or early evening.

Typically, Busters are between thirty and a hundred kilometers wide and depths can reach a thousand metres. In 1948, a spectacular Buster brought winds gusting to 113 kph. Along with violent squalls, Busters bring thunder and lightning.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Brickfielder


Dust storm in Sydney from news resources australia

The Brickfielder got its name from the fact that red brick dust from the nearby brickfields blew across the city of Sydney.

These northerly summer winds are hot, dry and dusty. Associated with frontal zones of low pressure, they affect southeastern Australia, mainly Victoria and New South Wales.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Canterbury Nor'wester

This unusual formation is part of a northwest cloud arch over Canterbury, New Zealand caused by a foehn wind.

Canterbury Nor'westers blow warm, strong, and dry in the lee of the Southern Alps. Through the  "roaring forties," (windy 40-50 latitudes), they form anticyclones. 

Over the Canterbury Plains of the South Island, these winds are hot and enervating. As they veer westward, temperatures fall with the arrival of frigid air from the South Pole.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Cape Doctor

Pedestrians in Cape Town fight the wind

The Cape Doctor is a persistent dry southeasterly that blows across Cape Town, clearing away pollution and bringing in fresh clean sea air.

This wind is important to marine and plant life. It aerates the lagoon and river mouth, forcing life-giving oxygen into the shallow water.

It also helps the fynbos that grow in the thin soil of Table Mountain by causing condensation that brings them much-needed moisture. When a cloud forms over the mountain, this welcome "table cloth" brings rain to the eastern slopes.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Harmattan

Image from newtopia

The Harmattan is a dry easterly or northeasterly. Crossing the Sahara, it picks up sand and dust as it rages out over the West African coast.

The fine dust carried by the Harmattan can travel hundreds of kilometres over the sea, interfere with the machinery of aircraft and coat the decks of ships.

The Harmattan is strongest between November and March, but in summer the cooler southwest winds of the monsoon can push beneath it and raise it aloft, causing tornadoes over West Africa.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Ghibli

Image from weatheronline

The Ghibli, a local name for the Sirocco in Libya, is a hot and dry south or southeasterly wind that stirs up dust and sand.

These troublesome winds can last for days and change the desert landscape by rearranging vast quantities of sand.

Remember the sandstorm scene in the movie The English Patient? The jeeps were buried completely. When the storm was over, they had to be dug out before the occupants ran out of air.

Like other winds, the Ghibli has been grabbed for advertising, for instance, a Ghibli vacuum cleaner.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sirocco (or Scirocco)

Image from wikimedia

A warm southwesterly or southerly that blows from North Africa, a Scirocco begins as a dry wind and picks up moisture as it crosses the Mediterranean. By the time it reaches southern Europe, it is uncomfortably humid.

As the image shows, siroccos can originate as cyclonic winds that begin over the sea and swirl across the desert before turning northward.

Over the desert, a sirocco stirs up a lost of fine dust that interferes with visibility and can interfere with the functioning of fine machinery. In some cases, it gives rise to sandstorms.

However, as it crossed the Mediterranean into Europe, the Sirocco brings fog and rain, and the hot sultry conditions can cause headaches and insomnia for some. These winds blow year-round, bringing gale force winds that usually last 10-12 hours, but can continue for up to three days.

The name Sirocco must be considered evocative by advertisers. Among other things, it has been used to name a car, a movie, a kayak, a golf club and a fashionable Bangkok restaurant.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Crazy weather in southwestern BC and beyond

For weeks during this hot dry summer, large swathes of the interior of BC, Alberta and the northwestern US were covered by a pall of forest fire smoke.

The picture on the left shows what Barriere looked like on August 24 when I passed through.

Today I came back over the same road. I was relieved to see that last weekend's recent heavy rainstorms had washed the sky clean (below).

While I was away, the Lower Mainland had rain with gale-force winds that broke down branches and uprooted drought-weakened trees. Large trees fell, damaging houses and crushing cars.

The good news is that the plants are delighted with the long-awaited moisture. In our garden the fall crocus is coming on beautifully.

At Valemount and Jasper, snow has already fallen on the mountaintops.We hope this augurs a normal snow cover for the coming winter, reducing the risk of drought next year.




Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mistral

Image from wine, wit and wisdom

The Mistral is a fiercely cold dry northerly that blows down the valley of the Rhone River in France. It originates in the Baltic or the Atlantic and flows to the southeast, bringing bitter weather that leads to tiresome headaches. A mistral can blow for several days, affecting weather across the Mediterranean, and even damaging crops in its path.

The image of the Mistral is so evocative that it has been used to name and promote everything from soaps and bath products to restaurants and bars to luxury automobiles. Mistral is also a class of French amphibious ship.