(17 March 1998)
A reader who prefers to remain anonymous tells me that "sastruga" comes from the Russian word "zastruga," meaning "groove." (I have got to get a decent dictionary; I oughtn't to have to ask readers about etymologies.)
Treesong confirms that the source of "sastruga" is Russian and adds that the plural is "zastrugi," which sounds to me like an entrée but I guess nobody asked my opinion.
Christine Perkins, a reference librarian, writes that "a patron ... asked ... if there is actually a wind called Maria. (She saw Paint Your Wagon and was curious.)" I have no idea why the song uses that phrase, and no idea whether there really was a wind called Maria; the librarians have checked lots of sources to no avail. Any readers with ideas, please let me know.
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