Originally published on Hackwriters.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
I came to this masterpiece quite late in life. I’m not sure why, because I had seen it on library shelves since my childhood. But then one of my other favorites, Peter Mathiessen’s The Snow Leopard, referred to the famous “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” chapter and so I found an ancient hardbound edition with the original drawings. I carefully read it one Saturday afternoon in my easy chair, with soft music playing and a cup of Earl Grey steaming next to me. I was enchanted. The adventures of Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad are timeless and fun, something I was prepared for from a children’s classic. But I was not prepared for the wisdom, harmony, and depth of the more reflective chapters.
The Wind in the Willows burns with the warm hearthfires of fellowship and compassion. It concerns home and travel and the balance we must strike between them. And so on a driving tour, two friends and I read it out loud to each other, finishing on the last stretch of highway heading for home. One of my life-memories will be reading a chapter from this treasured tome on the windy top of Mount Mitchell in North Carolina.
This is unquestionably a book for a certain kind of explorer - those of us who explore our homes: the little fields and streams, the groves and reed ponds, the paths and villages. And at the end of the day, we enjoy sliding back into our easy chairs, boiling a cup of tea, and wrapping up in a comfortable blanket. We may never discover a hidden city or make the first ascent of a mountain, but you can be sure we still hear the wind in the willows.