Living where the wind turns is a Brazilian expression for living somewhere that’s far away from everywhere, apt really for the Torres Strait and our home on Thursday Island. Recently an Islander friend, Nino, who lives on the neighboring Island of Kiriri (Hammond Island) explained the four winds to us on a day trip to his Island. We were belting across a small channel of the Strait that separates the two islands in his open dinghy.
“There are four winds in the Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait), which are the seasons. Kuki is the Northwest that brings the monsoons (January to April) and Sager which is the South East wind of the Dry season (May until December). Then there is the southerly Zay, which comes at any time and the Northerly Nay Gay which blows hot and humid (October to December),” Nino said.
In minutes Kuki whipped up the waves and a monsoonal front hit us with sheets of rain as the dinghy dashed for the sheltered bay of his community on Kiriri. We were drenched in seconds, but not cold as the warm rain stuck our clothes to our bodies. We had been generously invited by Nino to his island to attend an art workshop he ran, where he showed people how to sculpt turtles out of ghost nets, the many abandoned fish nets that plague the world’s oceans. “We used to make traditional masks out of turtle shell, then the other day when I was fishing I found a ghost net floating with a trapped turtle, and I now make turtles out of ghost nets,” Nino explained. Meanwhile Kuki brought the rain beating down on the community centre where he ran his workshop.
Nino’s innovative use of this scourge of the sea has seen him be awarded the National Museum of Australia History through Art Award at the 7th Gab Titui Indigenous Art Awards this year, for his piece clinging to life.
Now a few weeks later, I have noticed Sager blowing again as of a couple of days ago, sending a sea breeze through our house that we haven’t felt for months, it will blow away the mozzies and blow flies that have been tormenting us when Kuki blew and buffeted the other side of the island, leaving us in a lull on the southeastern lee side. But now Sager is blowing again, so we can open the windows, turn off the aircon and hang the hammock in the backyard. I better tie down my tomato plants, as seasons evolve and life goes on. We truly do live where the wind turns…