The East Wind

I’ve been wanting to write about the last episode of “Sherlock,” called “His Last Vow,” which I just learned is a retitling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “His Last Bow.” Here’s the east wind quote from the original story:

“There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”

“I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”

“Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There’s an east wind coming all the same, such as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind nonetheless, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”

In that story, the coming storm was World War I. In the ending of season 3, it’s (SPOILER!) the return of Moriarty.

When I heard the east wind quote on “Sherlock,” I immediately thought of George MacDonald’s book “At the Back of the North Wind”—a very odd but enchanting book published in non-serialized form in 1871. In it, the east wind is described this way by North Wind: “East Wind says—only one does not exactly know how much to believe of what she says, for she is very naughty sometimes.” So, the East Wind is not exactly a good girl. She sneaks out. She runs with scissors. She probably has really good stories.

Guess who else comes in on the east wind? Mary Poppins. A troublemaker if ever there was one!

It’s rare for us to get a true east wind where I live. It’s usually southeast or northeast. When we get an east wind, it’s blowing in from the coast, and I can feel it, even though I live between three and six hours from the Gulf of Mexico (depending on where you put in).

So, let’s just say an east wind is blowing. It’s not exactly nice, is it? If it’s from a god, it’s the slightly sociopathic version that brings war and criminals. It can’t exactly be trusted. Still, it might also bring Mary Poppins. One thing’s for sure—it never lasts. And afterward, you can go fly a kite.


  1. Those east winds can be terrifying. I’ve lived through several and sometimes wonder if they’ll ever stop.

    But if I get to fly a kite afterwards . . .

    Good stuff, you. Good stuff.

  2. Yeah, I’m with the kite-flying crowd – as an observer, as I’ve always been lousy at it! Loved this, Megan. A lot.

  3. that’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

    According to Richard M. Sherman, co-writer of the song with his brother, Robert, the word was one that the two knew in their youth. In an episode of the Disney Family Album featuring the story of the brother’s careers, Richard Sherman stated, “were remembered this wonderful word from our childhood”.
    In a 2007 interview, Sherman indicated that the final version of the word was produced by the two brothers over the course of two weeks during the songwriting process, indicating only that the origins of the word were in their memories of creating double-talk words in their childhood.

    The roots of the word have been defined as follows: super- “above”, cali- “beauty”, fragilistic- “delicate”, expiali- “to atone”, and -docious “educable”, with the sum of these parts signifying roughly “Atoning for educability through delicate beauty.”

    According to the film, it is defined as “something to say when you have nothing to say”.

  4. “But it’s God’s own wind nonetheless, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”

    I guess that’s good to remember when the wind blows. Cuz I can’t fly a kite either.