bookish: The Wind in the Willows, again

The other day, the Boy and I were talking about The Wind in the Willows, as we often do, and specifically about Wayfarers All. In this chapter of my beloved book, Ratty becomes seduced by the charms of travel and faraway adventure.

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Normally, Ratty resides by the river year-round and is pretty content. The summer however is slowly winding down, Ratty can feel the seasons change and this makes him feel gloomy and restless. Initially, as he sees his friends begin to pack their belongings to prepare for travelling south to warmer climes, he tries to convince them to stay. But then he meets another Rat, someone who unlike him is a traveller, a nomad, never staying in the same place for too long, someone who has plenty of stories to share. Slowly, all the talk about strange lands, violet seas, exotic new acquaintances and unforgettable experiences begins to get to him. Ratty becomes enchanted by these descriptions of the unknown, and in comparison the familiar of his life by the river looks grey and faded.

It is only when the Mole stops his friend from taking off and begins to talk about all the activities that the changing season would bring in their little corner of the countryside, that Ratty slowly becomes himself again and abandons any thought of leaving his house by the river. This is actually one of my favourite passages in this book:

“Casually, then, and with seeming indifference, the Mole turned his talk to the harvest that was being gathered in, the towering wagons and their straining teams, the growing ricks, and the large moon rising over bare acres dotted with sheaves. He talked of the reddening apples around, of the browning nuts, of jams and preserves and the distilling of cordials; till by easy stages such as these he reached midwinter, its hearty joys and its snug home life, and then he became simply lyrical.”

So what The Boy and I were talking about is which one of the rats we mostly identify with. I think I am closer to Ratty. I love having a home, a permanent base. It gives me great pleasure to see how my local countryside changes and yet remains the same through the year. Little traditions that come with each season fill my heart with joy. Right now for example, I’m excited to go on the first blackberry picking of the season. Certainly, I love to travel, and I yearn for adventure, but I always want to be coming home afterwards.

I think earlier in my life I felt I didn’t need a base so much, I definitely had that “anywhere but here” feeling, and I guess it’s what brought me here. But for now, it seems to me that I prefer the quiet life. Just like Ratty and Mole, I want to be by the river, to walk in the meadows, to see the leaves change with the seasons and to experience all the little joys that they bring, right here.

I’m wondering, who do you mostly identify with? Do you often get bored and restless and need a change? Are you happier when you are settled in the familiar? Also, isn’t it amazing how a supposed children’s book can evoke such deep questions?

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Making friends in the countryside vol.6

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As close as it gets to a unicorn.

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Watercolour skies

bookworm_watercolour1 bookworm_watercolour2 bookworm_watercolour3 bookworm_watercolour5 bookworm_watercolour4 bookworm_watercolour6 bookworm_watercolour7On Saturday, we decided to switch up our evening routine and went out for our walk after we had our dinner instead of before. This turned out to be a brilliant idea because we set out for our walk right around sunset time. The combination of clouds, light, and shadow made for a rather stunning sight of the sky over the meadows. It reminded me of the skies in paintings of Gainsborough or Turner.

The beautiful skies made for some pretty lovely reflections in the river too. All in all, I loved our sunset walk; I think I’ll try to switch up the time of our evening walk at least once a week for the rest of the summer.

 

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An evening in Woodstock

(For the first three parts of this story, check out Before the rain comes, Summer rain, and After the storm.)

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We left Blenheim Palace and walked up a steep path to the town centre. As always, I had to stop and sneak peeks of the cottage gardens we walked past; my favourites were the roses and the hydrangeas.

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The Woodstock town centre is so pretty! This is what comes to mind when I think of “small English town”. We got a drink at our favourite Woodstock pub, The Star Inn, and once we felt properly revived we decided to walk around the town a little bit more as it was the golden hour and it was beautiful.

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We walked down some of my favourite streets of Woodstock, away from the centre the neighbourhoods were quiet and serene. As the light was fading we made our way back to the town centre to enjoy the music of the little town fair that was just starting.

bookworm_ew10We picked up some food from the chip shop (I got fishcakes and chips, The Boy got pie and chips), perched up on a ledge and listened to the blues with a view of the church and The Bear Inn. It was lovely!

Just as it was getting dark, we made our way home.

 

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After the storm

(This is the third part of a story; the first part is Before the rain comes and the second part is Summer rain, if you’d like to catch up.)

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With the sunshine returning although light rain was still falling, and sheep still hiding under trees to stay dry, we left our shelter and began to walk.

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I didn’t mind the rain as it wasn’t hard at all, the raindrops actually felt quite refreshing. Then I noticed a faint rainbow ahead, which always makes me happy.

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Once the rain stopped completely and the sun came out, everything looked so beautiful. There was a warmth in the light and an ethereal quality in the air that felt magical. I was very happy to be there to witness this at that time.

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I had a bit of a Wind in the Willows moment when we reached the cottage perched right next to the stream that feeds the lake.

bookworm_after7 bookworm_after8By now, we had reached the gate to the grounds where we started our walk a couple of hours earlier. The sheep were back to their grazing, water was dripping from the leaves, and everything had been drenched and cleansed. It had been a lovely little walk and we were certainly ready for some food and rest in Woodstock.

Check out the last part of this story tomorrow!

 

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