© 2007 Billie S. Noakes
All Rights Reserved
A long time ago, before modern people discovered Florida’s Gulf coast, the Wind came to visit the beach and soon discovered it was a very nice place to live.
She enjoyed the peace and stillness of the beach for a very long time before the first people came to stay.
The people liked living on the beach, too, and they told their friends what a great place it was. And they told their friends, and soon, so many people wanted to live on the beach that builders had to be hired to put up more houses, and schools, and stores, and … well, pretty soon our beach started to run right out of room, and it wasn’t long before the people told the Wind that even the little bit of space she took up was needed to make room for something the people called progress, and she had to find a new place to live.
At first, the Wind thought she could move to the park, but when she saw the children playing there and ruuushed! to say “Hello,” she blew dirt in their faces, and snapped the fabric of their shirts and pants, and knocked over their pop bottles and ice cream cones.
“Wind, you are such a nuisance!” yelled the children. “We don’t want you here! Go away!”
The Wind’s enthusiasm quickly deflated. “I’m sorry,” she said, and, making a tiny funnel cloud, turned away to find someplace new.
Her search soon brought her to the local high school. “Oh, yes!” the Wind fluttered to herself. “I can live in the school and see all the young people every day, and cool their fevered brows when they have to take their tests!
But when she swept into the classroom to find her place, she also swept all the papers on the teacher’s desk up into the air, scattering them all around.
“Wind, you are a nuisance,” scolded the teacher, “and you’re not even registered in this school! You can’t come to class if you’re not registered. Now, go away!”
“Sorry,” said the Wind, sighing a small sigh and whispering her way out the door.
The Wind thought that perhaps she needed a breath of fresh air, a new town where she could meet new friends and be happy, but where should she go?
The Wind thought and thought, and while she thought she drifted toward the Interstate highway.
Seeing the highway signs reminded the Wind of a vacationing family she’d met on the beach a few years ago. They came from a small town in Colorado called Manitou Springs, and just above Manitou Springs was a place called Cave of the Winds.
Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a large, cool cave to live in, named just for her and her relatives?
The Wind immediately headed north and west, and it wasn’t long before she came to the base of Pike’s Peak. She swished back and forth, excited to be so close to her new home, and finally took a deep breath and glided right to the mouth of the cavern, but just as she slid across the entrance to the cave, she was stopped by a big, strong wind with a deep voice that made the very rocks tremble.
“And who are you?” demanded this big, strong wind.
The meek little Wind from Florida caught her breath. She could barely whisper her answer, she was so frightened. “If you please, sir, I’m the Wind who used to live on the beach in Florida, but there wasn’t any more room for me there, so I’m looking for a new home and when I heard about this place called Cave of the Winds … well … I thought it sounded just wonderful and … and …” and her voice trailed right off into silence.
The silence didn’t last long.
“YOU THOUGHT WRONG!” thundered the Wind of the Cave. “I am the Great Manitou, and this Cave is MINE!”
“Well, I understand that,” the Florida Wind conceded. “But your cave is so big, and I’m such a small wisp of a wind, almost a breeze, really, and—”
“I SAID NO!” came the Great Manitou’s answer. “Now GO!”
The gentle Florida wind turned sadly away from the Cave of the Winds and made her way back down to the base of Pike’s Peak. She drifted toward the Interstate once more, not quite sure what to do or where to go.
But—wait! What was that? Someone was driving a convertible with the top down and the radio up, and was listening to a news report about something happening in The Windy City!
A whole city of wind? She could hardly believe it! The Wind listened a little longer and learned that The Windy City was a pretty political place, so there was certainly more than a little hot air blowing around there. Why, a gentle, cooling breeze like herself would be just the thing to keep things from getting too hot to handle!
The Wind listened some more and discovered that The Windy City was in Illinois, and that wasn’t such a long way for a quick-footed Wind to travel.
Why, the Wind was so eager to get to her new home that she picked up a lot of speed on her way east. Unfortunately, she caused a lot of trouble in her haste, so when she got to the outskirts of The Windy City, she wasn’t a bit surprised to find an unwelcoming committee there to greet her: Big Boss Wind had bellied up to the prairie on the edges of his town and when he saw the Florida Wind approaching, he took such a deep breath that he nearly sucked the life right out of her!
“Well!” said Big Boss Wind. “What do you have to say for yourself, stirring up trouble all across the plains?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to,” exclaimed the Florida Wind. “I was just in such a hurry to get here, this being The Windy City and all! You see, I had to leave my beach in Florida because it was to crowded, and the people needed more space, and the parks were too dusty, and the schools were too … papery… and, well—“ and here she finally ran out of words, because Big Boss Wind was puffing his cheeks and his chest and looking quite fearsome.
“I know all about you,” said Big Boss Wind, “and you need to move along. This is my town, and The Windy City isn’t big enough for the two of us!”
By now, the Wind realized she had expected just such a rebuff, and she didn’t even argue before turning away with a dejected little sigh.
But then she remembered something her cousin in Kansas had told her about a little girl named Dorothy who also thought she could find happiness far from everything she knew and loved. And Dorothy soon discovered there’s no place like home.
That was it! The Wind would go right back to Florida, where she belonged, and just keep looking till she found the perfect place to live.
In no time at all, the Wind was back in her home town, and looking with a very discerning eye at all the possibilities for her new residence. She saw city parks that were already over-crowded, and condominiums that didn’t have enough room for her to turn around in, and huge parking lots that were so hot even the Wind couldn’t stand to linger long over them.
But then she saw an empty old house that looked like no one had set foot in it for years, and the Wind wisped cautiously through a crack in one of the windows to see what was inside.
Oh, it was a perfect house for a playful Wind to live in! There were spaces between the slats in the floors for her to make high, keening noises as she edged through. There were banisters worn so smooth that she fairly whistled as she slid down them. There were windows that let just enough cool air in so she could muster up a passable chill if she really tried.
The Wind couldn’t have been happier in her new home! She spent weeks exploring all the nooks and crannies, finding new ways to make her house sing as the traipsed from room to room.
But then one day in early October, the Wind looked out one of her windows and saw a carful of people stop in front of her house! The sign on the car said “Business and Development,” and the Wind knew what that meant: more “progress” to drive her away!
The Wind decided that caution was her best choice, so when the people came to the door and unlocked it, she held her breath and made herself very, very small.
“Well, this place sure looks the part,” said one of the people. “It’s big and rickety, and we won’t have to do much to make it look really scary.”
“There’s potential,” agreed a woman, “but oh! It’s stifling in here. How can we expect to make money with a Haunted House if the place is too hot for people to come in?”
The Wind heard that and recognized a career opportunity in the making!
She slithered along the slats in the floors, making them creak with her pressure.
“OOOOH!” exclaimed one of the committee members. “That’s more like it!”
The Wind picked up a bit of chilled air and brushed gently against the backs of the necks of the people standing together by the door.
“OHHHHHH!” they trilled. “If the wind is like this when we open our Haunted House, we’ll have a sensation!”
And that’s just what happened! The Wind listened to all the comments the Business and Development Committee made when they talked about their plans for the Hallowe’en Haunted House, and she created all kinds of windy complements to their scariest displays!
The Wind was such a hit that it wasn’t long before her reputation traveled far and wide, and once Hallowe’en was over she was invited to WaltDisneyWorld in Orland to fill in when their wind needed a break. Somebody in California heard about her, too, and soon the Wind was invited to star in a movie called “Twister” with a very nice young actress named Helen Hunt.
The Wind received so many invitations that she was able to visit almost every city in the country, and almost every country in the world!
But you know, every year, just as the air starts to turn cooler and people begin thinking about the fun they have every October visiting the Haunted House, the Wind comes right back here to Florida, and sends chills up everyone’s spines, because this is the place the Wind calls home, and this is where It All Began!