Blow, Blow, Ye Winds
There isn't a single windmill owner in Holland who doesn't have a second job, for when there is no wind.
-- Johnny Ball Newton
Mother Earth News responds from Massachusetts before Sarita's local letter receives an answer. Despina could have done without the sneer that goes with Juan's success, but, the project grows.
In fact, the windmill itself shows up before the local electrical company responds, as Juan is quick to point out to Sarita with a smug grin. It comes in pieces, with directions for assembly. It is small, more like an old time windmill designed to pump water out of a well. She strongly suspects Cu has picked up the tab, but money is never mentioned.
The day it arrives is beastly hot. The UPS truck stirs up more than dust when it squeaks to a stop in front of the school roof.
Smart driver to recognize this as the school.
Juan and Miguel take the box eagerly, promptly dropping it on the ground. Tearing immediately into the packaging, Juan comes up with the instructions for assembly. For an instant, Despina fears he will let them flutter into the wind, but he dutifully pours over them.
"Everything is either numbered or lettered," Juan declares with authority.
"Good. We can all read numbers and letters." Despina smiles reassuringly at her overly excited charges.
Juan is evidently not as sure. "Formen Uds. una linea." He hands a piece to each child based on their size, telling them to remember the number/letter the part has.
About the time she realizes she needs to come up with some tools, Cu and several others arrive, breaking out pliers and screw drivers.
"How did you know to bring tools?" She doesn't care how dumb she sounds. The coincidence bugs her.
"Hubo una gran nube de polvo de una camión. No hay ninguna otra persona que ordenó nada." Cu's Spanish evokes a former method of communication among Indians in Despina’s mind.
Laughing, Despina thinks, Big plume of dust from truck. Nobody else ordered anything, then says, "Ah, reading the proverbial smoke signals."
Juan carefully moves the lines into two so that the right letters are paired with the right numbers.
He has a natural talent for organizing, Despina notes to herself.
Soon the two Germans and Paul Peter from Mound show up, sans the older students. Several Indians have quietly joined the group, tools in hand. Not one adult impatiently takes things away from one of the kids, no matter how ineptly they work, or makes them feel inadequate. It turns into one smooth process, cooperatively achieved.
More tribal etiquette? Don't let the big kids steal the little kid's thunder?
Men are there tightening the bolts as the children start them into the holes and get them as tight as they can with bare fingers. Soon the vanes are recognizable. The pattern of the support structure takes place at the end of another line just as rapidly.
Approaching Paul Peter, who is happily screwing nuts onto the backs, tightening them firmly, Despina inquires, "Where are your students?"
"Kinda hot out again, ya'know? They’re all studiously hitting the books down at the old swimming hole."
"How often can you get away with that excuse?"
"Even in Iowa school let out when the temperature hit the 90-’s before noon."
"True." She sighs in relief.
"Nice looking roof."
"Yes, it is. And a real blessing not to be exposed to the sunlight. With no walls, any breeze that comes by gets in freely." Despina faces her favorite mountain view without worrying about looking through a window and smiles. "I like being able just to glance up from anywhere in my classroom and see those lovely mountains. It's like a 360 panorama picture window."
"You crisped up so much that first morning, I think they were afraid they'd lose you if they didn't shake a leg,” Paul Peter says with a laugh.
Despina remembers that day very well. She'd started promptly at 8, and by 11, sent everyone home for lunch. She made it as far as her hovel, where she'd collapsed into a restless slumber until the next morning around five. Awakening to the call of nature, she had come close to quitting when she realized she had to walk over a mile to the hospital to get to facilities. She didn't think anyone had noticed, but for it to have reached Paul Peter, it must have been widely discussed. Nobody local who was not sick or injured walked into the hospital for anything.
She jerks her mind back to the present. Both Germans are old hands with tools, she notes with satisfaction. In fact, all the men are smiling. Sweat is streaming down their faces, but everyone is upbeat.
"What's the plan?" inquires Paul Peter, working side by side with Cu..
Plan? I'm supposed to have a plan? Despina gets a panicky look on her face. "Well, once it is upright, see if it works."
"Right." As Despina moves off, she hears Paul Peter comment desultorily, “What was the tribal council about?”
Cu, always reticent, responds, “Qué va a vender el refrigerator de Guillermo, o no.”
Paul Peter nods sagely. “Ah, sure to get tempers flaring... a kid’s artwork selling, potentially earning more than most adults.”
Soon ropes are attached and the windmill proudly raises its head above her school.
The older German speaks in measured tones. "In my country, when I boy, we use battery, to keep electricity."
"What kind of a battery would it take?" She has the feeling he's not talking about a flashlight type battery at all. Maybe one like a car uses?
"We build." Off the two Germans go, Cu with them, to collect the pieces.
Shades of Soylent Green Despina thinks, remembering Edward G. Robinson matter-of-factly pedaling the bicycle to generate the electricity to power a light bulb to read by.
The advent of such a minuscule amount of electricity whets appetites for more. Students plan to look into large wind machines, pricing various designs, checking into efficiency, maintenance, effect on local flora and fauna, lifespan, and create a myriad of designs to decorate them. Many volunteer to return to the library for the needed information.
Ah, the newest form of totem poles.
That night around the campfire, as Despina brags about the alfabeto photos, Bruno volunteers to help Sara and Alberto mat, frame, and display copies of them in the art gallery.
Last updated 3/16/10 Changed a piece to each child.2/28/10 Changed draws a response to receives an answer. 2/20/10 In last line, changed she to Despina, corrected cap and italic on alfabeto. 2/19/10 Added last line (mat and frame photos). 2/17/10 Translated more of Cu’s speech into Spanish, added Despina’s thoughts to explain it. 2/16/10 Switched Cu’s speech to Spanish and added a kid’s artwork selling, to explain it. (Where’sMeKilt) 2/15/10 Fixed repeat copy problem. 1/28/09, added "tells"; 1/10/10 resurrected for the windmill material. 7/27/02 Formerly As the Wind Blows, now again Class Projects -- The Wind. 4/5/02 Removed from Class Projects -- The Wind.
Word Count: 1080