Listen closely. The wind tells tales. A writer takes note in Maui, Hawaii


Sunset on the city beach in Kihei, Maui, looking toward Lahaina. People gather on the beach to watch the light fade over the water. (Kevin S. Giles photo)

By Kevin S. Giles

(This is a journal entry from June 2015 that I wrote in a fierce wind on the southern seashore of Maui, Hawaii — and with a pencil of all things. I was reading Moby Dick and you can see the influence here.)


Trade winds keep the palm trees in constant motion on Maui. This was taken at Maalaea, where the wind and the waves kept us mesmerized. (Becky Giles photo)

The message comes in the wind. It arrives from a place far away, on the wings of a beginning that’s timeless and remote. We wonder of its origins. And so the wind is much like a messenger. Think of where it has been.

Think of its travels, what it has seen. It rolls over land and sea as poetry in motion, gathering rain and dust and all other essences it touches. It passes by me with a whisper and sometimes a roar. Where is it going? What have I learned of it?

Wind away. Unfurl your sails and take me aloft. Show me your beauty, your urgency, even fury. Do I look adequate for the journey? You are my inspiration, wind, much like fish and turtles. You tutor me in the simplicity of nature – simple to my eye, perhaps, complex to yours.

Our existence is intertwined and interconnected, born of reliance and toleration. What do I know of you? What you of me? Shall I find a story in you, wind? A breath of understanding in every gust you bring me?

I’ve read of you many times. You’re Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Ishmael and Charles Lindbergh. You’re a freight train for welcome rain, sometimes a villain of forces beyond our control (hurricanes and tornadoes), a calming lull in our trees. You ride the waves to our shores. I hear you sing.

You can’t disturb a rainbow nor will you move mountains. You will erode them, though, with your eternal touch. The earth feels its hands upon you, as does the water. You carry stories on your lips – places seen, people married, times that existed and changed, cultures that disappeared. Still you blow.

I’ll write words about you, wind, maybe many more than today. I’ll tell of your comfort. Your strength! Your invincibility! Or is it omnipotence?

You guide boats, stir waves, churn palm trees in perpetual motion, whisk dead leaves from their branches, bring us new snow. Your relentless presence dries the land, or soaks it, while we curse you even for ruffling pages in our books. Shame!

You are our friend, to us always charting a course of your own free will, and we respect you for it.

Blow on, wind, blow on!

(Kevin S. Giles wrote the novel Summer of the Black Chevy, and Jerry’s Riot, the examination of Montana’s 1959 prison disturbance. He also wrote the biography Flight of the Dove: The Story of Jeannette Rankin. He is one of those Montana writers who finds stories in the woods and valleys and streams of western Montana, and on the ocean’s edge in Maui.)