I enjoyed Dave Humphrey’s most recent post on reading Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows to his daughters. Perhaps it is only one of our strange synchronicities, but I identify very strongly with him when he puts himself in the place of Mole, gliding ever further down a stream that he has never seen before, putting himself completely in the hands of his new friend Rat. I have imagined myself in Mole’s place also, as I have imagined myself in the place of Rat and Badger, though never in the place of Toad, whose encounters with the human world always seem to disrupt the unity of the novel for me. There is a quality to these characters that causes me to identify with them and with their world.
I especially appreciated the notice that Dave takes of the hospitality shown by Badger to Rat and Mole when they become lost and beset by weasels in the woods. I have already made mention, in a previous post on open homes, of an earlier episode in which Rat provides hospitality to Mole, but Dave’s reflection reminds me of the other places where Grahame’s story is deeply about hospitality and friendship, the home and the hearth, the table and the meal. There is something beautiful about this world that Grahame creates, something that reaches its fullness in the scene where the nature god appears during the search for the lost otter pup. I love this story, and I envy Dave the few years headstart he has in sharing it with his children.