'The Search For Rain' | Circle Round 92

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Have you ever teamed up with other people to get something done?

Right now, we’re all keeping our distance from other people, to help everyone stay healthy and safe.

But just because we’re keeping a physical distance, it doesn’t mean we have to be separated. Even if we’re not in the same room, or the same building, we can still find ways to join up with others, and accomplish things that we can’t do on our own!

In the story we’re about to hear, we’ll meet some people who really need to work together. But first… they need to get their act together!

Our story is called “The Search For Rain.” It’s inspired by a tale from Argentina, the second-largest country in South America.

Voices in this episode include Doug Lockwood, Maurice Emmanuel Parent, Gamalia Pharms, Delores King Williams, and Amory Sivertson. Amory is the co-host of Endless Thread, a podcast from WBUR and Reddit that brings stories from the Internet to life — from mysteries, to histories, to stories about our shared humanity.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Circle Round’s executive producer, Katherine Brewer. Circle Round’s original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

Think about three people in your life that you’ve worked together with in the past - three people who don’t live with you right now. Maybe you’ve baked muffins with a grandparent, put together a puzzle with a friend, or tidied up the classroom with a teacher.

Now that you’ve chosen your three people, get some paper, something to draw with, maybe some stickers or sequins or glitter, and create three thank-you cards… three cards that tell your people how much you appreciate having them in your life. After that, send them those cards! A grown-up can post the cards by mail, or they can snap a photo and send the cards by email or text. Either way, your three people are sure to feel great!

Musical Spotlight: Bandoneon

The bandoneon is a type of accordion, which you play by holding the instrument between your hands, then pushing in or pulling out while pressing buttons with your fingers. Though the bandoneon has become synonymous with ‘tango,’ the dance style that originated in the 1880s along the river border between Argentina and Uruguay, the bandoneon actually was developed and built in Germany. You can hear more bandoneon music, and see a photo, at this NPR blog post.


NARRATOR: Long ago... in a land of clear, winding rivers and sparkling-blue lakes... towering, jagged mountains and vast, grassy plains... a summer came where there was no rain.

Not even a drop!

Day after sweltering day, the hot sun hung in a cloudless sky, with its blazing rays baking the earth... and burning the people’s feet.

PERSON 1: Uch! Can you believe this sun?!??

PERSON 2: It’s drying up our rivers and lakes!

PERSON 3: To say nothing of our cool mountain streams!

PERSON 4: And our beautiful grassy plains! They’re so sizzled and scorched that they’ve turned from green..

PERSON 5: yellow

PERSON 6: … to brown...

PERSON 1: / PERSON 2: / PERSON 3: / PERSON 4: / PERSON 5: / PERSON 6: (a bit slowly) … like a desert! 


NARRATOR: The desperate people gathered in the village square to discuss how they might weather the drought.

PERSON 1: (a-ha moment) I know! We can all take turns using the village well!

PERSON 1: / PERSON 2: / PERSON 3: / PERSON 4: / PERSON 5: / PERSON 6: Yes! 

PERSON 2: And if one family has more water than another family, they can share!

PERSON 1: / PERSON 2: / PERSON 3: / PERSON 4: / PERSON 5: / PERSON 6: Yes! 

PERSON 3: And we can set special water aside for anyone who is very young, or very old, or very sick!

PERSON 1: / PERSON 2: / PERSON 3: / PERSON 4: / PERSON 5: / PERSON 6: Yes! 

NARRATOR: But even though the people made these promises... they didn’t follow through. Instead of sharing, the people began hoarding what little water they had... for themselves!

PERSON 1: (innocently) Hey! May I please take a drink from your water bottle? I’m so thirsty! 

PERSON 2: No! 

PERSON 1: How about you?


PERSON 1: Just one little sip...?


NARRATOR: As the temperatures rose, so did tempers. Sisters lashed out at brothers, neighbors squabbled with neighbors… even the best of friends turned against one another. Many people stopped talking altogether… even if they lived under the same roof!

Meanwhile… out in the countryside… where the grass had turned from bright green to burnt yellow to scorched brown... a young woman named Alma lived on a farm with her Father.

Every morning, the rooster would crow…

[SOT: rooster crow]

NARRATOR: ...and Alma and Father would wake up and share a humble breakfast of buttered toast. Then Father would go off and feed the chickens, while Alma ran errands in the village.

One day, Alma returned to the farm with a puzzled look on her face.

ALMA: Father... Do you know what’s going on in the village? Lately everybody has had such a sour look on their face! They’re all bickering and quibbling... Why is everyone so mad at each other?

NARRATOR: Father shook his head.

FATHER: It’s because of the rain, Alma! People are upset because the rain has stayed away for so long.

ALMA: But why has the rain stayed away?

FATHER: That’s a good question, my dear! And if I knew the answer, here on the farm our cornstalks wouldn’t be withering... and our chickens wouldn’t be too hot and tired to lay eggs in their nests!

NARRATOR: Father mopped his brow with the back of his hand.

FATHER: Believe me, daughter… I would do anything to bring back the rain. Anything. (beat, sincere) I just don’t know how!

NARRATOR: Alma swept her eyes across the farm. What Father said was true — instead of growing tall and green, their cornstalks had turned shriveled and black in the heat. And the chickens lay stock-still in the henhouse, too weak to even let out a cluck.

But what bothered Alma most… were the people in the village. And how the absence of rain had led to an absence of caring… and made enemies of formerly loving family members and friends.

ALMA: Father… there has to be a reason the rain won’t come. (beat) Perhaps it has to do with the gods of the Great Sky World!

NARRATOR: The gods of the Great Sky World were the powerful spirits who created all things and lived in a magical realm high above the earth.

ALMA: I mean, has anyone tried asking the gods for help? Like Earth Mother — who gave us life! And the Sun God — who brings the warmth of the day! And, of course, the Rain God — who used to bring heavy storm clouds that unleash rain! Beautiful, bounteous, cooling rain!

NARRATOR: Alma took a deep breath. Then she raised her hands in the air, and turned her face to the skies. She closed her eyes and asked Earth Mother to send water to the springs and wells. She begged the Sun God to mask the sun behind the clouds. And she implored the Rain God to bring rain… beautiful, bounteous, cooling rain.

But no rain came. Not even a cloud.

ALMA: (sigh of exasperation) This is so strange! There must be a solution to all of this! (beat) (resolute, confident) And I’m going to find out what it is.

NARRATOR: As Alma began striding toward the door, her father called out.

FATHER: (calling out) Alma - wait! You can’t go wandering around out there! The sun is so hot, it’ll sizzle you like a sausage! You’ll wither like the corn stalks! You’ll crumble into dust!

NARRATOR: But Alma paid Father no mind. Under a blistering orange sun, she set off across the dry, burnt grass of the plains… determined to summon the clouds to the sky, and bring back the rain.

NARRATOR: Will Alma succeed in her quest for rain?

We’ll find out what happens, after a quick break.


NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “The Search For Rain.”

NARRATOR: Before the break, a great drought was ravaging the land. The people were thirsty... and tired... and cranky. So cranky, in fact, that they all turned against each other! Instead of coming together and cooperating, they were quarreling and quibbling… or just ignoring one another completely!

A brave young woman named Alma was determined to fix things by bringing back the rain. So she left the farm she shared with her father, and set off across the vast grasslands.

Alma’s feet kicked up clouds of dust from the parched earth as she walked. She passed a dry riverbed, where scraggly foxes and deer tried in vain to lap up just one drop of water. She passed withered bushes, where scrawny sparrows and meadowlarks pecked the drooping branches, in hopes of finding just one meager berry to nibble.

Like the animals, Alma was thirsty and hungry, too — and the ferocious sun was zapping all of her energy. Just when she thought she couldn’t take another step, what should she see looming in front of her but...

ALMA: (gasp) ...A tree!!!!

NARRATOR: Even before the drought, trees were hard to come by on the vast, grassy plains. So when Alma spotted this one, she was surprised.

ALMA: My goodness! Look at this tree! Even though we haven’t had an ounce of rain, its trunk is so strong and thick! The leaves are so moist and green! And check out those brown pods hanging from the branches — they’re so shiny and plump!

NARRATOR: Alma knelt down and laid her cheek against the tree’s cool, dark-grey bark.

ALMA: Ahhh! How nice to finally have some shade! (beat, quizzical) But how in the world is this tree standing here?! I’m surprised the sun hasn’t fried it to a frizzle!

CAROB: Well, child… that’s because I’m a carob tree!

NARRATOR: Alma leapt to her feet.

ALMA: (amazed, startled, flustered) You’re what?!? You’re who?!?

CAROB: I said... ‘I’m a carob tree!’ (beat) My roots reach so deep into the ground that they can store enormous amounts of water… even in a drought! (beat) And here!

NARRATOR: A plump, brown pod popped off of a branch and landed in Alma’s hand.

CAROB: Split this pod in half, and take a nibble.

ALMA: (tasting pod) Mmm! Tastes like chocolate!

CAROB: Right? You can use these pods to make all sorts of things… drinks, syrup, porridge, flour for pastries and cakes... (beat) But tell me, my dear... what brings you out to the middle of these blazing-hot grasslands?

ALMA: Well, I’m trying to find out why the rain has disappeared… so that I can bring it back! (beat) Carob Tree, you don’t happen to know why the rain has deserted us — do you? I tried asking the spirits in the Great Sky World… the Earth Mother, the Sun God, the Rain God...

CAROB: That’s because they can’t hear you! They can’t even see you. (beat) They’ve fallen asleep!

NARRATOR: Alma’s jaw dropped.

ALMA: The gods have fallen asleep?!? But why???

CAROB: It’s all that squabbling! All of you people turning against each other and giving each other the cold shoulder and being at each other’s throats all the time! The gods have stopped listening... and gone to sleep. (beat) So don’t expect to see that rain any time soon.

NARRATOR: Alma scratched her sweaty head.

ALMA: (figuring it out) Alright… so if the gods have gone to sleep... how do we wake them up?

CAROB: Well…


NARRATOR: The tree rustled its leaves.

CAROB: Think about what wakes you up in the morning.

ALMA: Oh, that’s easy! The rooster! … I swear, you can hear that bird’s crowing for miles and miles; he’s so noisy!

CAROB: Exactly! And that’s precisely what you need to wake up the gods in the Great Sky World.

ALMA: (not quite getting it) A rooster…?

CAROB: No, child! Noise! (beat) But here’s the thing. You’re going to need to raise a real ruckus! A hubbub of hullabaloo! It’ll take more than just you to wake the gods from their slumber. You’ll need to get a whole lot of people working together on this one!

NARRATOR: Alma thought about the people in the village… and how they were all feuding and fighting.

ALMA: But, Carob Tree, I’m not sure I can get everyone to — (gets interrupted)

CAROB: Uh-uh-uh! No “buts,” child! (beat) You know what you need to do.

NARRATOR: Alma lost no time in retracing her steps across the grasslands. She passed the ravenous birds in the bushes… the thirsty animals by the river... and by the time Alma reached the village, the sun was starting to set. The air was still hot and sticky as people bustled across the village square, heading home for the day.

Alma rushed to the middle of the square and cupped her hands around her mouth.

ALMA: Hello, friends! Listen up!

NARRATOR: But... nobody ‘listened up.’ They didn’t even cast a glance in Alma’s direction.

ALMA: Yoohoo! Friends! Hello...?

NARRATOR: Still, no response. Clearly, Alma would have to try a different approach.

ALMA: Hey! People! Check this out! (slowly, loudly) I KNOW HOW TO BRING BACK THE RAIN!!!!

NARRATOR: Suddenly, every single person stopped in their tracks.

PERSON 1: Did you say you know how to bring the rain back…??!?

PERSON 2: And end this drought...?!?

PERSON 3: Tell us, Alma!

PERSON 4: Please! Tell us!

PERSON 1: / PERSON 2: / PERSON 3: / PERSON 4: / PERSON 5: / PERSON 6: (ad-lib pleas for her to tell them what she knows)

NARRATOR: So Alma told the people what she had learned from the carob tree. How the gods had fallen asleep… and how it would take a whole lot of noise to wake them up.

ALMA: And folks? I am talking about a ton of noise! Noise that we can only make... together!

NARRATOR: At first, no one spoke. But then...

PERSON 4: (skeptical) So…. wait… you mean, I’d have to work with him...?

PERSON 5: And I’d have to work with her...?

PERSON 6: And I’d have to work with them...?

PERSON 1: / PERSON 2: / PERSON 3: / PERSON 4: / PERSON 5: / PERSON 6: (ad-lib protestations about having to work with other people, being so annoyed with/angry at them, etc.)

ALMA: Enough!

[SOT: squabbling stops]

ALMA: Yes! For goodness sake, you would be working with him! And you would be working with her! And you would be working with them! And they would be working with you! Just like we all used to do before this drought struck and this heatwave began! Back when we were friends...! Family...! Neighbors...!

NARRATOR: Alma began pacing around the village square.

ALMA: Don’t you see, friends? We have a chance to end our suffering… and our friends’ suffering… and our families’ suffering… and our neighbors’ suffering — not to mention the animals and the land! All we have to do is come together, and make some noise! (beat) It’s worth a try… don’t you think?

NARRATOR: Alma waited for an answer. When none came, she slumped her shoulders, turned on her heel, and trudged back to her farm, where she told her father everything that had happened.

ALMA: … and when I asked the people if they would work together to make some noise and bring back the rain, they just stood there, Father! Staring at me! They didn’t even blink!

NARRATOR: Father nodded, and walked to the closet. He opened the door and reached up to a tall shelf.

FATHER: Look, Alma. We can’t control what other people will do. But right now…?

NARRATOR: Father rummaged around the shelf, then pulled down two drums, and two pairs of drumsticks.

FATHER: Right now... we are going to raise a ruckus!

NARRATOR: As the silvery moon shimmered in the sky, Father and Alma stepped outside. Then the two of them began... to drum.

[SOT: drumming]

NARRATOR: ...and drum.

[SOT: drumming]

NARRATOR: ...and drum!

[SOT: drumming]

NARRATOR: Louder and louder they played their drums until all of a sudden… off in the distance…

[SOT: distant drumming]

NARRATOR: ...they heard more drums!

[SOT: distant drumming]

NARRATOR: … then more…

[SOT: distant drumming]

NARRATOR: … then even more!

[SOT: distant drumming, eventually joined by other noises]

NARRATOR: Before long, the banging drums were joined by whistles, shakers, even pots and pans, as a real ruckus… a hubbub of hullabaloo... rose up from the earth and pierced the thick, balmy night air.

ALMA: Father!?!?!! Can you believe it?? The people are working together! Together!

NARRATOR: Hand-in-hand, Alma and Father raced to the village square, where throngs of people were huddled in clusters, making noise and staring at the skies.

All at once, there was a deep rumble…

[SOT: rumble]

NARRATOR: ...and the sky turned jet black.

ALMA: (calling out) (gasp) The storm clouds have rolled in, friends! They’ve covered up the moon! (beat) Keep making noise! 

NARRATOR: Just then, there was a flash of lightning…

ALMA: Louder!

NARRATOR: … then another rumble of thunder…

ALMA: (even more emphatic) Louder!!!

NARRATOR: ...and next thing everyone knew…

ALMA: (even more emphatic) Louder!!!!!

NARRATOR: ...the skies opened up… and unleashed torrent after torrent of beautiful, bounteous, cooling rain!

ALMA: We did it! (beat) Together, we did it!!!

NARRATOR: As the people breathed in the damp, sweet-smelling air, they sang praises to the gods of the Great Sky World. They thanked the spirits for waking up… and apologized for being so quarrelsome when times got tough.

Then, the people did something they hadn’t done in a very long time. They reached out and joined hands with their family, their neighbors, their friends... and danced for joy in the puddles... spinning, and splashing, until every single person was drenched from head to toe… and beaming from ear to ear.

Headshot of Rebecca Sheir

Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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