When I tell my children that the wind can howl, they do not believe me. "Wolves howl," my son all but scoffs. "Wind blows." This is my literally-minded child; the boy who questions everything; the one whose first attempted written sentence was "My vanes are in my bode." His sister, of course, takes his side - she is his shadow and echo. "Wolves howl," she reiterates, "like this." She then proceeds to treat me to her best wolf imitation, which, I have to concede, isn't bad.
We are in the kitchen, poring over the science kit we purchased at the school book fair. I am in the process of coiling a thin strand of copper wire around a nail, in an attempt to make an electromagnet. To me, howling wind is no less preposterous a concept than electromagnetism, but my son has no problem believing in electrical currents and magnetic poles. The proof of those concepts is before us, literally in the sharp black text of the science booklet, and physically, in hand.
The next day I bundle up my son and send him outside to play with the boy across the street. My daughter and I, sensibly, stay inside, and watch the boys join the whirlwind of swirling autumn leaves. And then, we hear it. The wind howls.
"Did you hear that?" I ask, vindicated. "The wind is howling."
This phenomenon clearly delights my daughter.
"Listen to that," I say, as the wind continues to howl. "The wind is talking to us."
"Mom, I need my coat," she says. "I need to go talk to the wind."
Her face is luminous with wonder. As I armor her with a puffy parka, her slight body nearly doubling in size, it is preposterous to me that, at times, I have considered motherhood a sacrifice. We stand together on the porch, and she hesitates for a moment. Glorious, golden October has given way to harsh November, but, in the end,the cold proves no deterrent for my daughter. She gallops down the porch stairs and the wind howls its welcome to her, but I can't hear her response, because she's already tripping down the sidewalk, crunching leaves under foot, racing toward her brother. Theirs is a world in which I no longer reside - a world where wind is a playmate. They are my own and yet, my children are what I am not - vessels of concentrated, endless energy. I stand on the front porch, hugging my arms around myself to shield off the cold, and wait until my daughter reaches the end of the walk and takes her place as her brother's shadow.