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    When the Wind Blows Sweetly Through Our Home

    April 4, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    This past week and a half or so has been quite difficult around here. It’s been a combination of exhaustion, nursing strikes and fights, discipline issues, and bored-while-baby-is-nursing children.

    Yesterday, especially last night, felt worst of all. And so I awoke this morning feeling the urge to pour some especially Good Things into my children today. We did catechism earlier than usual {if we can be said to have a “usual” after only three days}, and that time was sweet. I always appreciate that when we are done, my son always wants me to read more of the “Holy Scripture of the Lord,” as he reverently calls it.

    Later, I cracked open A.’s birthday gift, her beautifully illustrated copy of The Wind in the Willows. If ever there was a day to read of the adventures of Mr. Toad and his friends, it was today. The sweet and simple fragrance of this classic collection of tales blew through our living room. The children were enchanted for the half-hour it took to read The River Bank. It didn’t hurt a bit that Michael Hague’s illustrations complement this book with warm, detailed images that invite one to meander and enjoy, much the way one would if traipsing along beside a real riverbank.

    Here are some of the parts we liked the best:

    “And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!”

    “By it and with it and on it and in it,” said the Rat. “It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and {naturally} washing. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing…”

    The Mole was quiet for a minute or two. But he began to feel more and more jealous of Rat, sculling so strongly and so easily along, and his pride began to whisper that he could do it every bit as well. He jumped up and seized the sculls, so suddenly, that the Rat, who was gazing out of the water and saying more poetry things to himself, was taken by surprise and fell backwards off his seat with his legs in the air for the second time, while the triumphant Mole took his place and grabbed the sculls with entire confidence.

    [snip]

    Over went the boat, and he found himself struggling in the river.

    [snip]

    When all was ready for a start once more, the Mole, limp and dejected, took his seat in the stern of the boat; and as they set off, he said in a low voice, broken with emotion, “Ratty, my generous friend! I am very sorry indeed for my foolish and ungrateful conduct. My heart quite fails me when I think how I might have lost that beautiful luncheon basket. Indeed, I have been a complete ass, and I know it. Will you overlook it this once and forgive me, and let things go on as before?”

    “That’s all right, bless you!” responded the Rat cheerily. “What’s a little wet to a Water Rat?…”

    This day was only the first of many similar ones for the emancipated Mole, each of them longer and fuller of interest as the ripening summer moved onward. He learned to swim and to row, and entered into the joy of running water; and with his ear to the reed stems he caught, at intervals, something of what the wind went whispering so constantly among them.

     

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