If I angle my camping chair so I am facing just the right way, I can pretend I’m in a lovely park somewhere.
But alas, I am home. Camped out on the carport, I spent most of yesterday afternoon reading, and it was such a nice thing that I have dragged the chair and my bag back out here. Today, though, it is blustery, which is nice for drying my wet hair and freshly painted toenails, but I’m afraid it won’t be comfortable out here for long. I think it is supposed to rain soon.
The grass is the way I like it: full meadowy personality before the first mow. Birds are calling to one another. When I got home on Friday afternoon, I watched two male cardinals pursue a female in the branches of the foremost tree in the above picture. Yesterday, I watched robins hopping along in the grass. Just now, a bluejay landed on a tree’s limb back near the ditch, which I’d much rather think of as a creek.
I didn’t knit or spin at all yesterday. Instead, I finally finished reading The Wind in the Willows, which I started—as I seemingly do every spring—on Saturday morning over a late breakfast.
I never seem to get past the beginning of the third chapter. I tend to lose interest after Mole wanders from his hole, meets the Water Rat, and goes for his first boating expedition on the river. That first chapter is such poetry.
So much so that I can’t help but read it out loud, as I did the passage:
He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea. (“The River Bank”)
I, like Mole trotting eagerly and enrapt along the river, want to hear more and more of this tale as Kenneth Grahame spins it so beautifully. But once Toad is introduced, I always lose interest. This time, however, I vowed to read on and on until the final page.
That’s how I ended up on the carport yesterday.
And sometime around 9:30 last night, I reached that final page. Now, I can say I have actually read all of The Wind in the Willows in honesty, but while I’m being honest, I would have been content to have just stuck with those first few chapters.
The story, which begins so quaintly with the adorable Mole, becomes centered around the foolish and conceited Toad, his obsession with Bigger-Better-Faster, his lies, and his kleptomania. More than once, I closed the book in my lap and shook my head at how much the boastful Toad reminded me of our current president.
“Ho, ho!” he said to himself as he marched along with his chin in the air, “what a clever Toad I am! There is surely no animal equal to me for cleverness in the whole world!” … “Ho, ho! I am The Toad, the handsome, the popular, the successful Toad!” (“The Further Adventures of Toad”)
On several occasions, he declares, “I always come out on top!”
Of course, this story is in many ways about Toad’s repeated downfall after his recurring pride, but I would much rather have more of Mole and Rat.
Another thing I noticed: This book doesn’t come anywhere close to passing the Bechdel test. There isn’t a single female—human or critter—even mentioned for the first eighty pages, until finally two little hedgehogs, whom we see for a few pages and then never again, reference their mother. Later, there are three human characters that are women: the jailer’s daughter*, the washerwoman, and the barge-woman. Toad encounters all three, and they are all a combination of a few of the following traits: old, ugly, fat, deceitful, or rude. At one point, Rat scolds Toad for having been tossed into the river, “by a woman, too!”
I’m truly not trying to tear this book, beloved by many, to pieces, but isn’t it odd that none of the main characters—a menagerie of woodland creatures-—are female?
A few fibery updates:
We finally bought a new battery for the scale. When I last weighed the remainder of the Frog Prince yarn at Maria’s, I had exactly two ounces left of the total four. I do believe when I finish this current repeat of Firebolt, I will begin the ruffles. Next time you see the shawl, I promise: there will be ruffles!
In spinning news, the brown-and-white BFL is coming along.
The Matchless began to squeak a little on Friday, so I oiled it a bit. It’s back to spinning beautifully.
I don’t have plans for this yarn, other than to make it into a neat little barberpoled two-ply. As far as knitting or crochet, I have no idea. There is nothing in the world but time for it to tell me what it wants to be.
*Grahame uses the British gaol, meaning jail. I had no clue what gaoler meant the whole time I was reading it, but I figured it was something like a guard. Then later, either Rat or Badger refers to Toad as a gaol-bird, and suddenly, I realized what was going on. I pulled up my Dictionary.com app, and behold!