Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Summer Read Along: The Wind In The Willows
Chapters 7 & 8

My friends, I do apologize that this weeks post is late. I have been a bit under the weather for a few days, just upper respiratory stuff, and then yesterday a family member was diagnosed with the dreaded virus. I was just commenting only a few days before that it had been some time since I had known anyone to have had it, and then it hit right in our own household. That combined with tomatoes coming in hot this week has kept me very busy in the kitchen and it has been difficult to find time to post this weeks entry.  But, now that I have a few minutes to look through my notes, I'm ready to share.


Well, after being completely disappointed with the previous chapter, Chapter 7 more than made up for it. I have SO many thoughts, but as time is a bit hard to come by at the moment, I'll try to condense it. 

"The willow wren was twittering his thin little song, hidden himself in the dark selvedge of the river bank. Though it was past ten o'clock at night the sky still clung to and retained some lingering skirts of light from the departing day, and the sullen heat of the torrid afternoon broke up and rolled away at the dispersing touch of the cool fingers of the short midsummer night."

This passage paints such a familiar picture. The many nights this summer I've looked out onto our lawn and the light from the moon was shining so brightly it looked almost daylight, the "silent silver kingdom".  I have many memories of such nights from throughout my lifetime. Something about shadows cast on the ground by the moon has always entranced me. The sound of the crickets and frogs, and the fireflies dancing about is simply magical. So I was delighted to be immediately caught up in the scene in this chapter, but then, it gets even better.

I struggle to know how to put into words the way this chapter moved me. I think it stems from an understanding of places in nature being "holy". It's something I have definitely experienced at times, when I am near compelled to take off my shoes because they place where I am standing is holy ground.  In their search for the young otter, Rat stated;

"Here in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we will find him"

In my own experiences it has never been a person I am in search of, but unexpetedly in these "thin places" I have at times, found God. It has led me to believe as this phrase states, that if I am seeking to be close to God, it is surely in nature that I will find Him.

"Then suddenly the Mole felt a great awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror, indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy, but it was an awe that smote and held him, and without seeing He knew that it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near."

Again, I am so moved by this passage, because it is so familiar.  The places in my life that have moved me to awe and wonder and the sense of holiness surrounding me there.  Places like Memorial Church in Historic Jamestown, Washington National Cathedral and so many places in the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the parkway, too many to list.  One of my favorite places is Thunder Ridge, which is an overlook that is about a twenly minute drive from our house. We've visited there several times this summer and it never ceases to amaze me. It just feels holy.

This entire chapter was just so lovely, the demi-god caring for the little otter until he was found, reminded me of this scripture.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders."

Luke 15:4-7

I have to say that I also now have a longing to be in a little boat on the river at night, though to be perfectly honest, I doubt I would ever be brave enough! 

Also, I was interested in what a willow wren sounded like, from the first passage I shared. The internet did not turn up anything by that exact name, although a willow wren was featured in a short story by The Brothers Grimm. What did turn up was a willow warbler, so perhaps they are similar? Anyway, it does have a sweet sound. You can listen to it, here.

Which leads us to  . . .


You might recall that I shared in my post last week I was unimpressed with Toad, and I'm sorry to say that this made him no more endearing.  I find him selfish and annoying and I keep waiting for him to grow up, which I am beginning to think isn't going to happen. From the wallowing and self pity to his decision to disguise himself and break out, and the preying upon the charities of others, it's all very unappealing and does not seem in keeping with the other characters in the story.  I'm interested in knowing Grahame's reasons for creating him, and I keep hoping that by the end of the story he will have done something to redeem himself.

That being said, there was one passage that I liked when the gaolers daughter brought Toad a tray of tea and toast;

"The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when ones ramble was over and slippered feet were plopped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats and the twitter of sleepy canaries."

It does seem that Toad has a deep love for the comforts of home, but can't seem to help himself from getting into the kind of trouble that takes him from it. In spite of this, these happy depections of home are the stuff this book is made of, and I am relishing in them!

And now it's your turn. Did you like these two chapters, and why? What were some of your favorite quotes and passages? Please share in the comments!  I look forward to meeting with you here again next Monday for our discussion of Chapters 9 & 10, which I've already peeked ahead and found another chapter is devoted to Toad! I really want to like him, so here's hoping!


~elen~ said...

Piper at the Gates of Dawn is one of my favourite chapters.
When the world started to be over-cultivated, over-civilized , "Pan is Dead!" they said.
But as long as even a part of nature thrives, Pan lives.

And yes willow wren is a willow warbler.

Anonymous said...

Well, here we differ! I was not a fan of Chapter 7. I just wasn't. I did mark the quote, "Rat," said the Mole, "I simply can't go and turn in, and go to sleep, and do nothing, even though there doesn't seem to be anything to be done. We'll get the boat out, and paddle upstream. The moon will be up in a an hour or so, and then we will search as well as we can- anyhow, it will be better than going to bed and doing nothing." I can relate with that feeling when there is a hard thing going on and you're really not able to do anything about it, but you feel like you need to do something. IMO, the chapter went downhill from there!

I'm not a fan of Toad either, but I do think we're going to see him come around! In Chapter 8 I had noted exactly the same quote as you. By far my favorite parts of this book are the lovely descriptions of home.


Kimberly Lottman said...

Thank you for joining in, ladies! I just love hearing everyone's likes and dislikes! :)