When I was young, I remember winter being a time when the outside world was white and cold like everything was a great big freezer. At night, I would listen as the wind howled and a tree as it scraped against the house. It always seemed furious like an evil giant destroying everything in his path.
On one particularly cold night, as I observed the wind, I felt pity for the tree. The wind was so strong and I was certain that my tree would be broken. A tear of compassion slid down my cheek and as I moved to brush it away, the face of Wind floated before me. I was shocked and stood very still. But I did not see the terror I had expected; instead he had a face of a kind old man, like a grandfather who loves you very much. His head and face were full of soft white hair. The great wind stopped his fury on the little tree and as he looked at me, his expression remained gentle. Perhaps his trusting eyes were the reason I did not feel any fear when Wind rattled my windows and they threatened to break. He wanted to come inside so I tried to help him, but this window had always been too difficult for me to open, however Wind refused to give up. His face disappeared but I could still hear his tongue as it lashed against the house, so I watched for him.
Just when I thought he would never return, I felt a cold blast of air fill my room and I scrambled under my bed covers, shivering. I heard a gentle rustling wind, as if it were exhaling and saying “Ah”.
“I finally found a crack and wriggled my way in,” I heard a whispery voice say. I looked up and there before me stood Wind. To my childlike eyes, his hair, beard and robe-like clothing flowed all around him and filled the room. “Well now, shall we be friends little one?” he asked.
Initially, I could only watch him in awe; I was speechless and felt intimidated beside Wind who seemed both huge and powerful. But finally, I found my voice and hesitantly replied, “Yes, sir.”
“Call me North Wind, for that is who I am,” he spoke, eyes dancing with mischief.
“Nice to meet you North Wind,” I said relaxing. North Wind swooped me up in his arms and placed me in the folds of his robes. Instantly I felt his warmth and laughed. I gazed into his inviting face and touched his cold cheek.
“Oh North Wind,” I spoke, feeling peaceful and content, “Why do you hurt my tree? We just planted it last spring and you are so strong I fear you will destroy it.”
North Wind delighted in my question. “Ah little friend, I know all of this but you see, the trees and I are old friends. There is an ancient understanding between us that began long before you were born. You thought I was hurting your tree but we were only giving each other our winter’s greetings because we love to play with one another.”
“Really?” I asked. It had never occurred to me that they could be friends.
“Yes. Do not worry about your tree. When I push, it must stand strong and cling to the ground for support. When a tree does this, it makes him stronger. My ways may hurt and even sometimes damage a tree, but the tree understands this and unless he is a very old tree or too lazy, he will become stronger. Can you understand this, little friend?” Wind asked tickling my cheek with his cold breath.
“Yes, North Wind,” I replied. “I understand and I won’t worry anymore.”
“Wonderful!” North Wind smiled a generous smile and gently placed me back on my bed. “It is time for me to go now.”
“Must you?” I cried out.
“Yes, the winds are very busy creatures and no one but a wind can do his work,” he spoke, tucking me back in bed.
“Can I go with you, dear North Wind?” I asked, hopeful. I could only imagine the adventures North Wind and I would have together.
“No, I’m sorry, but I can’t take you with me. Only in the rarest of cases can a wind show a child what he does. Now sleep, dear friend.” He leaned over me one last time and I could feel his warmth. My eyes grew heavy, but I remember hearing a faint whisper just before I fell asleep. “Learn to listen for me, little friend,” it said.
When I awoke the next morning, it was hard to get up because I was so tired. I tried to tell my mom all about North Wind, but she did not understand and only said, “What a nice dream”. But I knew that he had visited me. I got ready for school and was glad to see that the weather had not changed. I watched the loose snow drift across the icy streets. Mom complained about the weather and shivered, but I listened. She was impatient with me on the walk to school which was only a block away, but I walked slowly, straining my ears to hear Wind’s whisper, and heard nothing
When we reached the school yard, my mother told me to hurry in since it was so cold, but I paused and listened again. Wind had not greeted me and I began to wonder if he had forgotten me or if I had failed to hear his gentle voice. When I reached the door, the snow began to stir and I could feel a gust building. It swirled all around me and pinched me with its long fingers. My cheeks burned and I felt that I was going to be knocked over, but I stood strong against it and smiled. Then I heard a whisper in my ear, “I’m here, little friend, I’m here”.