Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Wild Wood

Reading Wind in the Willows for the second time around, I can't help but wonder if I really ever did read this book before! I just don't remember ever knowing how wonderful it truly is. I felt the same way about Winnie the Pooh when we picked up that old friend again.

The language and the characters are so rich and exquisite that, as I read to my 8yo son, he commented "Wind in the Willows is getting really good now!" and my 10yo daughter, who was previously playing, crawled up on the couch to cuddle close and hang on every word.

Today Mole ventured off into the Wild Wood alone in the midst of winter. It was one of those chapters that made me want to stick my head out of the window, wave the book in the air and yell to anyone that happened to be passing by, "Words, words, oh glorious words! You must read this!" Which is what I'm doing here I suppose.

Read for yourself a little bit of Kenneth Grahame's wonder. Here he is describing Mole's impression of the winter wood:
The country air lay bare and entirely leafless around him, and he thought that he had never seen so far and so intimately into the insides of things as on that winter day when Nature was deep in her annual slumber and seemed to have kicked the clothes off. Copses, dells, quarries and all hidden places, which had been mysterious mines for exploration in leafy summer, now exposed themselves and their secrets pathetically, and seemed to ask him to overlook their shabby poverty for a while, till they could riot in rich masquerade as before, and trick and entice him with the old deceptions. It was pitiful in a way, and yet cheering - even exhilarating. He was glad that he liked the country undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery. He had got down to the bare bones of it, and they were fine and strong and simple.
This is the Science of Relations at its finest, don't you think?

Later, when Ratty joins Mole who gets cut with a door scraper, a comical exchange ensues between the one, who knows a door-scraper naturally leads to a door, and the latter, whose thick-headedness prevents him from discovering the same. When at last Mole does put it all together, Graeme treats us to his ever so delicious wit:

"Rat!" he cried in penitence, "you're a wonder! A real wonder, that's what you are. I see it all now! You argued it out, step by step, in that wise head of yours, from the very moment that I fell and cut my shin, and you looked at the cut, and at once your majestic mind said to itself, 'Door-scraper!' And then you turned to and found the very door-scraper that done it! Did you stop there? No. Some people would have been quite satisfied; but not you. Your intellect went on working. 'Let me only just find a door-mat,' says you to yourself, 'and my theory is proved!' And of course you found your door-mat. You're so clever, I believe you could find anything you liked. 'Now,' says you, 'that door exists, as plain as if I saw it. There's nothing else remains to be done but to find it!' Well, I've read about that sort of things in books, but I've never come across it before in real life. You ought to go where you'll be properly appreciated. You're simply wasted here, among us fellows. If I only had your head, Ratty-"

"But as you haven't," interrupted the Rat...

...and off we are with AO's YR2 living literature.


  1. It was love at first page with us too! What made this chapter all the more special for us was a rare snowstorm that grounded us home that week. Truly magical. Glad to hear your older girl was still entranced as I'll be rereading this with my 5yo in a few years.

  2. Yes! We just got out of the Wild Wood. I know I've read this before, but I definitely didn't appreciate it then. Now I'm loving it!

  3. I've always loved Wind in the Willows. It was one of my mother's faves as well. I like that family continuity!

  4. Ooooo...can't wait to read it...it's next Term for us!