THE WIND WHO LOST HIS TEMPER*
The old wind dragged wearily over the snowy fields. He had been through
many towns and villages without resting anywhere. He
passed over all the rooftops, knocking his long, cold fingers on the
windowpanes and whistling in the chimneys.
But then a sudden thaw came to the towns, and the wind barely managed
to climb out of a chimney where he was lying and singing. He made a narrow
escape into the meadows.
The snow sparkled white in the fields, the sky was blue, and the worn-out
wind passed on, seeking a place to rest. All at once, he caught sight of
an oak tree looming on the far horizon by the edge of the meadow.
The wind thought to himself: "I'll lie down and rest under that oak
tree." And barely managing to reach it, he collapsed exhausted under the
He lay there, the wind, and his eyes closed from fatigue, and just
when he was about to fall asleep, he suddenly heard the oak snap into the
air with a gruff voice: "What kind of strange creature has gone to bed
down there? The cold is cutting to the very tips of my roots."
The wind replied:
"Don't be so cruel, dear oak tree! I'm an old wind, a vagabond. I wanted
to spend the winter in the towns, but there was a sudden thaw. I had such
a hard time breathing that I just barely managed to escape into the meadows."
The oak tree said in a more mellow tone:
"Dear wind, my heart isn't doing so well. This very winter, I remained
bare, my branches were all leafless, and if I hadn't kept my roots in the
earth, who can tell whether I would have survived till spring. Dear wind,
please go a bit farther. You'll find a rock by the side of the road. You
can sit down on him and rest."
So the old wind got up and set out to find the rock.
He went on and on until, ,by the side of the road, he spied the rock,
huge and mute. He sat down on it, tucked his hands in his sleeves, and
was about to doze off. But the rock felt someone sitting on his back, and
let out a deep grumble:
The wind replied: "I am."
The rock asked: "Who is `I'?"
The wind answered: "I, an old wind, a vagabond. I wanted to spend the
winter in the towns, but there was a sudden thaw. And I had such a hard
time breathing that I fled into the meadows. I wanted to lie down under
an oak tree, but the oak tree said I was too much weight on his roots,
and his roots are as dear as, life to him."
"Roots? Who gives two hoots about roots!" The rock was a nasty creature
and he cut him off in the middle. "If you want to sit down on somebody,
you ought to ask permission first. You can't just throw yourself down like
that! I'm cold and dry inside too, I'm on the point of bursting. And now
you come along and jump on top of me! Have you ever heard of such a thing!"
The rock hated anybody that could move and the wind didn't realize
What was the wind to do? He went on. Meanwhile evening had come. The
sun had set. In the west, something kindled, like a great fire. The white
snow turned rosy, and white, pink, and blue snowflakes were glittering
on all the fields.
The wind wandered along the road for what must have been an hour, and
by now he was totally feeble. But then he sighted a large inn with a large
red porch. The wind's eyes were all aglow. But he was afraid to sit down
on the porch without asking first. He thought to himself: "I'll ask the
innkeeper if I can rest on his porch." And he went to the door and knocked.
There was no answer, and so the wind pleaded in a tearful voice:
Again there was no answer. The innkeeper was lying asleep on the stove.
After all; the peasants always go to the market in town on Mondays, and
today was Tuesday, so the innkeeper had thought
to himself: "Since no one ever comes on a Tuesday anyway, I'll just
lie down on the stove and go to sleep."
The wind slowly opened the door and stuck his head into the house He
wanted to see what was inside.
But now a cold draft blew under the innkeeper's collar. Furious, he
leaped down from the stove and yelled:
"Oh my goodness! A draft! The door is open!"
The wind barely pulled his head out of the door, he ran breathlessly
down the road, while the innkeeper yelled and cursed behind him.
The wind lost his temper at the whole world. No one would let him rest
when he felt bad. He stopped, just like a giant, in the middle of the field,
rolled up his sleeves, girded his loins, and, in his misery, began blowing
with all his might. The snow rose up from the earth and, like silvery flour,
started pouring back down upon the earth . . . .
The wind kept blowing with all his might. Then he started whistling,
blowing and whistling, whistling and blowing. There was a snowstorm and
a blizzard, a whistling, a moaning. And the snow whirled and raged, like
white towels flying through the air. And the wind began to weep. He wept
like a little child, without stopping. Then he began howling like a dog,
and howled and poured snow, and yelled, and there came a darkness, and
all that was visible was the white snowflakes. And the white snowflakes
poured through the darkness, poured from the sky to the earth and from
the earth to the sky. And the wind began meowing, weeping, meowing and
weeping, like cats in the dark of night. And a great blizzard came: The
wind covered all the roads with snow. The draymen driving along the roads
had to rein in their horses. They couldn't see the way. Standing by their
wagons of goods, they hopped up and down and slapped their hands under
their armpits, amazed at the blizzard:
"What a tempest!" "What a whirlwind!"
"There's never been such a snowstorm!"
Around the towns and villages, the mountains were covered with snow.
Dogs stood by their dens, stretching their necks and howling. Everywhere,
the people closed their shutters, locked and bolted their doors. But the
wind banged in the doorposts, he stopped at the chimneys and wept so that
the whole world might hear. People couldn't fall asleep in their beds,
and even the adults didn't know what to do.
Now somewhere, in a poor house at the edge of the town, there lived
a poor woman with two children. The wind covered the entire little house
with snow. The children snuggled in with their mother. They were terrified
at the wind. The mother stroked their hair and tried to lull them to sleep.
But the wind banged on the windows and wouldn't allow the children to go
"Mother, please ask the wind not to bang so loud on the windows!"
The wind stood behind the wall. He heard what the children had asked
the mother. His heart bled. But the good wind had lost his temper at the
"Mother, please ask the wind not to weep so loud in the chimney."
The wind wept even harder. He was grief-stricken at spending all his
life like a dog, always on the outside, with little children afraid of
"Mother, please ask the wind not to lose his temper!"
The mother quickly put on her kerchief and opened the door. It was
dark outside. She stood at the threshold and spoke into the darkness:
"Wind, wind, please don't lose your temper!"
The wind wouldn't listen. He only got angrier and blasted a whole pile
of snow into the mother's face. The mother wiped the snow from her face
and told the wind a second time:
"Wind, good wind, just look at what you're doing!"
Again the wind wouldn't listen. But he didn't blast any snow into her
This time the mother addressed the wind with tears in her eyes:
"Wind, dear wind, just think of the little children!"
The wind quieted down. The snow gradually stopped falling. Behind the
corners of the house, there still could be heard a stifled weeping, softer
and softer, until it stopped altogether. The wind had made up with the
The next day, all the boys pulled their hats down over their ears, put
on thick mittens, picked up shovels, and cleared away the snow that was
blocking all the doors.