When the Wind Blows…


I have a friend who loves the wind.

She grew up in western North Dakota. While I was holed up in the farmhouse during prairie gales, poring over the illustrations in The Wizard of Oz, she was out in a wind-whipped pasture, thumping a stick on the ground and playing Moses, chanting, “Come, my people!” to the cows. “Follow me to the promised land!”

Except for Dorothy Gale’s Kansas tornado, the winds in my books tended more toward the soft-breeze variety. The picture for “Rock-A-Bye-Baby” in our copy of Mother Goose showed the smiling baby swaddled (a word I knew from Sunday School) in a cradle among the branches. Out in our shelter-belt of trees planted by my great-grandparents, I’d found baby birds crumpled up on the ground. Feathered bags of tiny bones, they’d clearly been rocked right out of our treetops.

At least the wind smelled good. When it blew all day from the mountains in summertime, it brought the scent of pine tree sap from thirty miles away. Zinging across rippled snow on a stubble-field in January, it crinkled the insides of our noses with its cold, clean smell. In March it blew the odor of thawing earth in through the windows my mother opened for spring-cleaning.

My friend switched from leading cows to serving the unemployed and has spent her career helping people find their way to their own promised lands. When the wind blows, I think of her.

And then I hurry inside and bury my nose in a book.