This week-end the wind suddenly changed direction, coming from the west instead of the north. Oh, what a difference a wind makes. They have such personalities and I totally relate to the Greek notion that there are gods for each of the four directional winds. The Anemoi they’re called. Boreas is the purple-winged god of the North Wind whose hair and beard is spiked with ice. He is also the god of winter, who sweeps down from the cold northern mountains, chilling the air with his icy breath. He’s been hanging out here all spring. But this week his brother Zephyrus, the West-Wind and the god of spring breezes arrived. He is most welcome as is his wife Chloris, the goddess of flowers and greenery. Notus will hopefully be gracing us with his presence as well. He is the god of the South Wind. Although warm, he can be a little overly enthusiastic when it comes to making wet summer rainstorms. Fall belongs to Euros, the East-Wind who dwells near the palace of Helios, the sun. He brings those clear, crisp autumn days which I look forward to – but not yet!
With all the storms we have had this spring, it might be time to share some tales about the wind. Greek mythology is a good place to start, of course and while you read about the wind gods, get the kids to draw maps with the four directional winds at the corners. Maybe you could play “Let’s go fly a kite” from Mary Poppins while they’re at it. Or perhaps read some more tales about the wind.
The Norwegian story, “The Boy Who Went to the North-Wind” in my book The Troll With no Heart in His Body is a great place to start and features a friendly, gift-giving north wind, a nasty troll-hag, and one of the most satisfying conclusions to any story ever told. It would be really fun to compare this version with Willa and the Wind by Janice M. del Negro. The book has eye-catching art, lively prose, a sassy heroine, Old Windy himself, and a folksy American setting. A third variant, “The North Wind’s Gifts” in Italo Calvino’s Italian Folktales makes this an interesting trio.
One of my favorite fables is Aesop’s’ “The Contest between the Sun and the Wind.” There are many retellings, but I am partial to Heather Forest’s delightful version of how the wind and the sun make a bet about who can get a man to take off his coat. Here the blustery wind is no match for the sweet warmth of the sun. Pair this with another fun Italian tale “Miss North Wind and Mr. Zephyr,” (in Italo Calvin’s Italian Folktales) which is fable-like and has a female north wind.
I suppose no unit on winds is complete without George MacDonald’s At The Back of the North Wind. This Victorian fairy tale has enchanted readers for more than a hundred years. It is the magical story of Diamond, the son of a poor coachman, who is swept away by the North Wind which here is a radiant, maternal spirit with long, flowing hair. Diamond’s life is transformed by a brief glimpse of the beautiful country “at the back of the north wind.”
Jane Yolen’s The Girl Who Loved the Wind is the story of a princess whose father seeks to protect her from all unpleasant things. But she is intrigued by the voice of the wind that tells her of worlds beyond the palace walls.
Many stories about the wind are available on line. Below are links to some of them:
Chinook Wind – Native American/Yakima
Fearing the Wind
Michigan Winds – United States
The Origin of the Winds – Native American
Sun, Moon and Wind Go Out to Dinner – India
The Warm Wind Brothers vs. The Cold Wind Brothers – Native American
The Wind and the Moon – India
Yaponcha the Wind God – Native American/Hopi