I try not to think too hard about the cardinal directions. North, South, East, West—just don’t talk to me about it. If you’re giving me directions, I’d much prefer left, right, right, right, left, you can’t miss it over west, north, east, south, east, am I talkin’ too fast fer ya?
Even as a Boy Scout, I was never comfortable with the whole notion of relying on a compass and its magic act with magnetism to find my way back to camp. It was much easier to listen for the interminable racket made by the other scouts back at camp, whose motto was simply: NOISE.
But I guess what really turned me off to the cardinal directions is the whole notion of wind directions. If I’m traveling north, I’m traveling north. But a northwest wind is actually traveling southeast. How can the wind get away with that?
Water can’t. A river flows in the direction it’s headed. A river flowing southeast is not a northwest river.
Fire can’t, either. “The fire is spreading to the southeast, fueled by a howling northwest wind.”
Wikipedia, in all its verbosity, offers nary a word to explain this exemption given to the wind. Maybe it goes back to the days of sailing ships. To fill your sails, you’d need to know the direction the wind was coming from, right?
Or maybe wind was granted this power in a royal decree by a potentate with a sense of humor but not a sense of direction.
Whatever the reason, maybe you do have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.