The Four Winds | Ep. 227

Download Audio
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Have you ever heard of the four “cardinal directions”?

The four cardinal directions are the main points of a compass: north, south, east and west.

But did you know that each cardinal direction has its own wind? The North Wind comes from the north, the South Wind comes from the south, and so on.

In today’s story, we’ll get to meet all four of these winds, and what happens next may very well blow you over! 

Our story is called “The Four Winds.” It’s inspired by a tale from the Lakota: the largest band of the Sioux Nation in North America.

Voices in this episode include: Feodor Chin, Dave Edson, Joe Hernandez, Anthony Palmini, Erika Rose, Chris Tucci, and Kimberly Guerrero.

Kimberly Guerrero has starred on such shows as “Reservation Dogs” on FX, “Rutherford Falls” on Peacock, and “The English” on Amazon Prime. You grown-ups may also remember her as Jerry’s Native American girlfriend, Winona, on “Seinfeld.” Kids, you can hear Kimberly’s voice in “Spirit Rangers” on Netflix.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Sofie Kodner. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

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

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, 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.

Now It’s Your Turn!

You can always know which wind is blowing by making your own weathervane!

You’ll need the following materials:

  • A straw
  • A pair of scissors
  • Construction paper
  • A pencil with a fresh eraser on top
  • Clay or Play-Doh
  • A Pin
  1. Take your scissors and construction paper and cut out an arrow and tail. The arrow should be bigger than the tail is.
  2. Ask a grown-up to help you cut a notch in each end of your straw.
  3. Slip your arrow and tail into the notches. Alternatively, you could use tape or glue.
  4. Roll your clay or Play-doh into a ball and push your pencil’s tip into the top.
  5. Take your straw arrow, and with a grown-up’s help, push your pin through the middle of the straw into the eraser.
  6. Bring your weathervane out to a spot that isn’t sheltered from the wind, and check out which way the wind is blowing!

Once you’re done with your weathervane, we’d love to see it! Grown-ups, snap a photo of your kiddo and their creation and email it to

We may feature your picture in an upcoming edition of “The Lion’s Roar,” our monthly newsletter for members of the Circle Round Club. Click here to sign up today!

Musical Spotlight: Hand Drum

Eric Shimelonis plays the hand drum, a cherished instrument in Native America and First Nations cultures. (courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)
Eric Shimelonis plays the hand drum, a cherished instrument in Native America and First Nations cultures. (courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)

Of all the Native American and First Nations instruments, the hand drum may be the most important. It’s been said that the steady, strong sound of hitting the hand drum is in sync with the rhythm of the heartbeat in the center of this world.

While different tribes have their own drumming traditions, the instrument’s basic construction is always similar: a wooden frame with animal skin (usually cow, horse, elk, buffalo, moose, or deer) stretched across the opening.

Traditional drums are big — 2-3 feet in diameter — and played by many people standing in a circle. However, in some indigenous groups, each drummer has their own smaller instrument. In this video, check out 9-year-old Aaron Potts Letendre of the Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation sing and play the drum!

Story Transcript:

NARRATOR: Long long ago… in a land of shimmering lakes, rolling hills, and grassy plains… there lived a fox.

FOX: Hold on a minute!!! (beat) “A fox”?!??? You’re calling me “A fox”???? Like I’m just some random, brown, bushy-tailed, triangular-eared, omnivorous mammal???? I will have you know that I am THE fox! (beat) Ever heard the phrase “SLY as a fox”?


FOX: CRAFTY as a fox”?


FOX:The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”???

NARRATOR: Um, that one’s a little more obscure, but yes. My middle-school typing teacher made me learn it because it contains all 26 letters of the English language. It’s what’s known as a “pangram”...?

FOX: Okay, thank you, Miss Smarty Pants. But I will have you know that all of those phrases originated… with ME! I am the ORIGINAL sly, crafty, and quick fox!

NARRATOR: So you are! In fact, back when our story takes place, you were SO sly, crafty, and quick that you drove all the people wild.

FOX: I sure did! In the dark of night, when the people were asleep, I would come creeping into a village…I would grab whatever food I could… and I would gobble it down! (beat) By the time the people woke up in the morning, their food was gone… and I was, too!

NARRATOR: That’s the truth! But you didn’t just raid villages in the dark of night. You were bold enough to strike in the light of day!

FOX: Oh yeahhhh! The people would be cooking the meat they’d just hunted… or simmering the berries they’d just picked… and if they turned their back for just one second… BAM!!! I’d steal their food, then scurry away!

NARRATOR: And they never even saw it happen.

FOX: You’ve got THAT right! (beat) It’s like I told you! Sly, crafty, and quick! (beat) Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another village to visit. I hear the people just went fishing and they’ve left all their trout hanging outside to dry! Toodle-oo!

NARRATOR: Well… as the seasons changed and winter loomed closer, the people began to worry. If Fox kept stealing their food like this, how would they survive the cold months ahead?

In one village, a boy lived with his grandmother: a wise, silvery-haired woman who once crafted the most beautiful quilts, before her fingers grew too old and stiff to handle a needle and thread. One morning, the boy told Grandmother he had an idea for how to get rid of Fox.  

BOY: The answer came to me in a dream, Grandmother! A strange and wonderful dream!

GRANDMOTHER: Dreams can be very powerful! We just need to pay attention. (beat) Tell me about your dream.

BOY: Well… I met… the Four Winds! 

NARRATOR: Grandmother’s eyes grew bright.

GRANDMOTHER: The Four Winds are the sons of the great Wind Spirit! If they came to you in a dream, you must heed their message. What did they say?

BOY: They said that I must pay each of them a visit. If I do, they promised they would help us get rid of Fox. (beat) It’s as simple as that!

NARRATOR: Grandmother shook her silvery head.

GRANDMOTHER: Oh, my dear. I wish it were that simple. But the Four Winds live in far-away places. VERY far! (beat) The East Wind lives at the edge of the world, where the sun begins its daily journey. He’s the one who summons the dawn – though the truth is, he’s a legendary loafer, and would much rather sleep!

BOY: (little giggle) Really!? And what about the West Wind?

GRANDMOTHER: The West Wind dwells where the sun goes over the mountain when the day is through. Unlike his sleepy brother in the east, the West Wind is  full of energy! He’s rambunctious, jolly… and LOUD. After all, he’s the one who sends the rains – and the thunder!

BOY: …And the South Wind? What about him?

GRANDMOTHER: The South Wind resides in the place where the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, and everything is alive and growing. He’s kind, and generous, and sends warm, pleasant breezes and good weather… unlike the North Wind.

BOY: Ooo! Tell me about HIM!

GRANDMOTHER: The North Wind makes his home way up north, where the sun rarely shines and the world is usually frozen with snow and ice. The North Wind can be mean… and harsh. Cold. In more ways than one. (beat) But if he’s promised you his aid, then he’s a good one to have on your side.

NARRATOR: The boy paused for a moment as he took in Grandmother's words.

BOY: Sooo… if the Four Winds live in such far-flung places… how can I possibly visit them all? I’d have to travel by foot, and it would take forever!

GRANDMOTHER: Well! In that case…

NARRATOR: A smile dawned across Grandmother’s face.

GRANDMOTHER: …It’s a good thing you won’t have to travel by foot! (beat) Look at this!

NARRATOR: She reached into a basket and pulled out a soft quilt, patterned with colorful stars.

GRANDMOTHER: My mother made this quilt for me years and years ago, back when she first taught me how to sew. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to use it.

BOY: For warmth?

GRANDMOTHER: No! For travel! This quilt can transport you anywhere you wish to go! Wrap it around your shoulders, think about a place, and just like that… you’re there!

NARRATOR: The boy gazed at the quilt in wonder. Then he flung his arms around Grandmother and planted a kiss on her cheek.

BOY: Thank you, Grandmother! This is just what I need to visit all Four Winds!  And once I do, I promise: we will never be troubled by Fox again!

NARRATOR: If you were the boy, how would you feel about meeting the Four Winds?

And how might the Four Winds help solve the people’s problem?

We’ll hear what happens… after a quick break.


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

NARRATOR: Before the break, a boy dreamt that the Four Winds promised to do away with a pesky fox who’d been stealing the people’s food.

FOX: Okay, hold your horses! “A pesky fox”???? It’s like I told you at the start of this episode. I am not just “A fox!

NARRATOR: Right, right. You are THE fox.

FOX: Mm-hm! … And as for “pesky,” I much prefer “sly,” “crafty,” and “quick.”

NARRATOR: So noted!

FOX: AND… as for “doing away with” me…? I can assure you: this fox isn’t  going ANYWHERE. Except to another village to steal more food! I hear that on the other side of that lake over there, they just picked a whole mess of wild potatoes! Ta-TA!

NARRATOR: The boy’s grandmother knew it would be difficult to reach the Four Winds by foot. So she offered him a quilt that could take you wherever you wished to go. The boy wrapped the quilt around his shoulders… and made his first wish.

BOY: I wish to visit the home of the East Wind!

NARRATOR: In the twinkling of an eye, he found himself at the edge of the world, where the sun begins its daily journey. And there before him…

EAST WIND: (sleepy throughout) Hello there! (YAWN!)

NARRATOR: …was the East Wind! He was lounging on what looked like an enormous bed of clouds.

BOY: Oh mighty East Wind! After I saw you in my dream I had to come see you in person. Fox is still causing much trouble for the people. Can you help us catch her?

EAST WIND: Well… (yawn) I promised I would help, and I never break a promise – even if sometimes I’d much rather sleep. (yawn) So yes. Tomorrow, I will help you catch that fox. (yawn) You can count… on me…

NARRATOR: As the East Wind fought to keep his eyes open, the boy thanked the sleepy spirit, then wished to visit the home of the West Wind.

NARRATOR: Next thing he knew, he was standing beneath a mountain: the same mountain the sun goes over when the day is through. And towering above him…

WEST WIND: (jolly and good-natured throughout) Hey there!

NARRATOR: …was the West Wind! As he clapped a giant hand on the boy’s back, there was a rumble of thunder and a drizzle of rain.

BOY: Oh, powerful West Wind! I’m here about Fox! She’s been stealing from the people. Can you help us catch her, like you told me in my dream?

WEST WIND: Of course I can! Trust me – that fox won’t be RAINING on your parade for much longer! HA! (beat) But seriously. Tomorrow, I will help you catch that fox. You can count on me!

NARRATOR: The boy thanked the jolly spirit, then wished to visit the home of the South Wind.

NARRATOR: Quick as a flash, he found himself in the place where the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. And standing before him…

SOUTH WIND: (sweet and gentle throughout) Welcome!

NARRATOR: …was the South Wind! All at once, the boy’s nostrils filled with the scent of fruits, flowers, and other things that grow from the earth.

BOY: Oh, sweet South Wind! After I saw you in my dream I simply had to visit! Will you help my people catch Fox?

SOUTH WIND: You bet I will! I’m never one to turn a blind eye to those in need!  (beat) Tomorrow, I will help you catch that fox. You can count on me!

NARRATOR: The boy thanked the kind spirit, then held the quilt around his shoulders. There was just one more stop to go.

BOY: I wish to visit the home… of the North Wind!

NARRATOR: In an instant, the boy found himself in a cold, dark place: SO dark, he could barely see his hand in front of his face! And barreling toward him…

NORTH WIND: (brash throughout) Greetings!!!!

NARRATOR: …was the North Wind! All at once, an icy breeze cut through the boy’s quilt, and clumps of snow landed on his head.

BOY: (shivering a bit) Oh great North Wind! My people are growing desperate. We must catch Fox or we won’t survive! Will you help us, like you said you would in my dream?

NORTH WIND: Will I help you??? WILL I HELP YOU???? You should never doubt my word! (beat) Tomorrow, I will help you catch that fox. You can count on me!

NARRATOR: The boy thanked the brash spirit, then made his final wish… to go back home.

It was late when he arrived, and after giving his sleeping grandmother a good-night kiss, he curled up in bed and fell fast asleep.

The next morning, somewhere across the plains, Fox was setting off for another day of mischief. Her bushy brown tail wagged back and forth as she tried to decide which village to raid next.

FOX: Let’s see… I’ve heard ONE village just harvested a whole bunch of HONEY! And I do love me some honey. (beat) But ANOTHER village has been drying all this corn, so they can pound it into cornmeal, and that could be tasty too…

NARRATOR: As Fox mused over her next conquest, she felt herself growing… tired.

FOX: (YAWN) Why am I feeling so zonked all of a sudden?

NARRATOR: Well… do YOU know why?

It’s because the East Wind came sweeping in! With his sleepy, lazy breeze!

FOX: (YAWN) I think I’ll just… close… my eyes… for a moment…

NARRATOR: But – just as Fox began drifting into dreamland…

NARRATOR: … she was roused from her slumber… by the West Wind! Thunder boomed like a cannon as heavy clouds rolled in and unleashed sheets of rain!

FOX: Oh no! I’d better find cover!

NARRATOR: As Fox scampered around, the rain fell heavier and heavier, and just as she was dragging her soaking-wet body under a shrub…

NARRATOR: … the South Wind came breezing in! The rain ceased, and the air became warm and fragrant. Fox stopped in her tracks and took a sniff.

FOX: (sniffing in) Mmmm! Such an intoxicating scent! I smell all sorts of fruits… and flowers… and – (gets interrupted)

NARRATOR: But that’s all Fox could say. Because who should come blowing in next… unleashing his icy breath all over Fox’s body… but the North Wind!

FOX: Yikes!!!

NARRATOR: Each breath was colder than the last. Fox’s brown fur was already soaking wet from the rain. Now it was frosty white from the ice!

FOX: (shivering) I’ve… n- never… b- b- been… this c- c- c- cold… in my life!!!

NARRATOR: Well, little did Fox know, but she was about to get even colder. Because as the North Wind let out another frigid breath, Fox felt herself rising up and off the ground.

FOX: Woahhhh!

NARRATOR: Next thing the shivering creature knew, she was way up north… in the vast, tree-less area we now call the Arctic tundra!

The North Wind dropped Fox in a bank of snow…

FOX: Oof!!!

NARRATOR: …and hours later… when she finally dug her way out… she made an astonishing discovery.

FOX: My brown fur! It’s… WHITE!

NARRATOR: Indeed! Fox had been so very frozen – and frightened – that her fur had turned white… making her the very first Arctic fox!

FOX: So, wait. Does this mean I’m no longer the quick BROWN fox who jumps over the lazy dog…?

NARRATOR: Not necessarily! Come summer, when the sun gets a bit stronger and warmer, the Arctic fox’s white fur turns brown again. When winter returns, it goes back to white.

This changing fur helps the Arctic fox blend into the landscape, so it’s easier for her to catch food.

FOX: Aw yeah!

NARRATOR: But, living way up north, she’ll never experience such luxury and plenty as when she resided among the people.

FOX: Aw shucks!

NARRATOR: I guess you could pretty much say that thanks to one brave boy – and four powerful winds – Fox’s life will never be a breeze again!

Headshot of Rebecca Sheir

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



More from Circle Round

Listen Live