Friday, May 24, 2013

Why I Never Get Much Past Chapter Four

Once again, I'm reading The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
I don't recall how many times I've read started this book. I never seem to get much past chapter four, I think. I've seen the movie of course, so it's not a matter of not knowing the plot. I know what happens. But in WITW (for short), it's all about setting to me. I don't care a fig about what Mr. Toad is getting up to. I'm more interested in Mole's tidy house, or Ratty's boat and river, or most of all ... Badger's house.

I read until I've been in Badger's lovely, warm, firelit, bacon-rasher-sizzling, toast-toasting, passage-winding, lavender-bedded home. Then I stop.
I had trouble finding google photos of Badger's house. Google only wanted to show me pictures of grinning Toad. But somebody drew a map of Badger's underground mansion. Look!
I do not believe it's accurate. Badger's maze of passages, halls, store rooms, and secret exits run from the center of the Wild Wood to its very edges. Thus, he knows everything that is even rumored of happening, in his wood.
If I were in this book, I'd certainly be a badger or a mole. Only in these chapters of snow and snuggling down for winter do I thoroughly enjoy myself in the book. Aren't badgers lovely?
If I were God (which I most certainly am not), I would have giggled as I made that adorable face.
I hope this time I get farther in the book. But as Ratty and Mole are now headed back to the river and their wintry stay with Badger is at an end, I glance at the chapter titles ahead. And all I see is TOAD.
I do not like Toad. I say that in all seriousness. He is annoying, loud, rash, irritating, selfish. He's just the kind of friend I'd try to get rid of. Why do his companions stick to him so faithfully? Why do they defend his flaws? And dearly as I love Kenneth Grahame's humorous turns of phrase, I suspect that of all his characters, he loves Toad best. For that, I find it hard to forgive him.
Back to the river now. Perhaps I can tolerate Toad if I get to keep company with Ratty and Moly. But oh! how I will miss the chimney corners at Badger's snug house!
 If you haven't enjoyed a visit to the river, you should. I'm not convinced it's a children's book. Or perhaps it is, and we're all supposed to be children. If your temperament does not incline either to Badger's warm, dim tunnels, or Ratty's glistening river, or Toad's mischievous adventures, then you might have no child left inside you. And that would be a shame.
I'm coming, Badger! Save me a place by the fire and a plate of crisp bacon!


  1. I KNOW! Me, too! I am not that interested in Toad, but I do think he is spunky and silly!
    Badger is so wonderful and I agree, his house is so awesome.
    Ratty is really the leader and I like his style. Mole is my favorite because he's so humble and willing to join along.

  2. What I most loved about reading Pom Pom's copy on the Tour was that I had to get through the book, word for astonishing word. I'm sure I'd read it all before, but why had I no recollection of the startling description of a divine in the rescue chapter, nor of Ratty's crisis? Those were my favourite passages last Spring! Goodness, was that a year ago already. Time for another WITW event, methinks!


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