Cold rain falls from a dark and misty sky tonight. In fact, the whole day has been the sort in need of a mug of tea and a good book. Thankfully, I have had much of both. While I cannot share mugs of tea via my blog, I can share the story to which I have been listening. It is none other than the belovéd The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
The above is Mr Grahame's gravestone at Holywell Cemetery, Oxford, England. When I was in England it had been some 15+ years since I read Grahame's delightful book. Listening to it now I can see why it is so well-loved by many persons in various times, and at all ages. Some of my favourite persons, Sheldon and Davy Vanauken, read this classic along the banks of the Thames during their Oxford years. I love them even more for it.
The story is one of friendship (friendship when it hurts, or is hard and trying to be a friend), the ache of Beauty, adventures, and having a home to call one's own. Typing that out fails miserably in conveying the depth, scope, and joy of the book... Thus, I encourage you to click on the title above and listen to the book in full - or pick up a copy from the library. You may find yourself at a loss for words, yet completely understanding, the sweet pain described in the meeting of "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn"; or laughing at the all-too-true-of-ourselves antics of the four friends.
'It's gone!' sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. `So beautiful and strange and new. Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!' he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound.
`Now it passes on and I begin to lose it,' he said presently. `O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us.'...
...`Rat!' he found breath to whisper, shaking. `Are you afraid?'
`Afraid?' murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. `Afraid! Of HIM? O, never, never! And yet--and yet-- O, Mole, I am afraid!'
~ The Wind in the Willows: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, by Kenneth Grahame