01 January 2021

new year resolution

 In the days before smartphones and tiny headphones for children's ears, our car travel with a child often involved all of us listening to cassette tapes of children's stories while we navigated our way towards or back from holiday destinations.

There was a lazy spring afternoon driving along the back roads between Siena and San Giminiano listening to  the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, long hours on French motorways with James and the Giant Peach, and a dark rainy evening drive back from Dublin with The Wind in The Willows. 

Now, The Wind in the Willows has charmed us all, but on tape, we only had an abridged version of "stories from" etc. which was good enough at the time but when S started to read she discovered with surprised outrage that we had "missed huge parts" of it. 

Especially, chapter seven, which to this day, is omitted in some versions, too much mysticism.

What happens in this chapter is Mole and Rat searching for Portly, the youngest otter, who has gone missing. They search most of the night and just before dawn find him asleep at the feet of the piper at the gates of dawn. The piper is of course, Pan, the god of the wild, of nature and of all who roam in and upon her, humans, animals, alone or in herds.

You can read it here, it's just gorgeous. Or you can listen to the gentle voice of Mike Scott from The Waterboys here:

This is January 2021, we have work to do, people. Not just get the vaccine and keep our fingers crossed. Our home, our planet is on fire, we need to wake up. When my grandchild is old enough to read this chapter, I want to be able to say that I tried my hardest.


  1. We too listened to the Wind in the Willows on cassette tapes in the car with the children! I think it was the whole book though. Magical indeed.
    Be well, Sabine. Best wishes in this new year.

  2. you know, I have never read the Wind In The Willows. and I wish we had thought of books on tape when we were doing car vacations with the kids. I'll have to come back and listen later.

  3. Happy New Year to you and yours...and thanks for reminding me how fragile our planet's life is. My resources these days seem to be here on the net, and I am happy to dedicate myself to sharing what I can with others, in doing the best that I can to serve Gaia.

  4. I never read or listened to Wind in the Willows, but now my curiosity is sparked.
    Yes, our planet, our one and only beautiful planet needs us, our attention our action our love. Now is the time. Now.
    Happy New Year to you and your family. Stay well, my friend.

  5. O, I love that book. I still have my childhood copy. Piper at the gates of dawn...

  6. Loved hearing Mike Scott's reading on the first day of 2021. I remember seeing the Disney version of Wind in the Willows when I was a child. It does seem that Disney hijacked the story. Have no recollection of reading the book or having it read to me and yet I am conscious of having heard references to it throughout my life. Having read that passage you linked to has inspired me to have our public library hold a CD copy so that I can listen to it rather than read it.

    As for the new year, no constructive action too small for our earth and its people in 2021.

  7. I've never read that book, I'll have to put it on my list of books to read.

    I wonder what will become of us all. If Mother Nature will just put her foot down and say "Enough, all of you, out!"

  8. I'm almost sure a friend gave me that book just before I moved from New York State to Florida. So it got packed and unpacked and moved and put God knows where? Now I am at a crossroads, do I do a complete search of all the bookshelves and boxes still unpacked, or do I simply order it for my kindle?

    1. You can download it for free to your e-reader:


  9. That's one of the books I have in mind to read this year. It's been on our shelves forever but my only memory of it is when (in school) Sr. Philomena would have us read it aloud by turns. But she had her favourites who would be allowed to read multiple paragraphs. I, to my chagrin, was not one of them, though I badly wanted to get a long enough paragraph to show her I could also read well! So, high time I treated myself to the entire book! But if I insist on reading it aloud, to make up for past deprivation, there might be objections from the peanut gallery.
    We all want our grandchildren to inherit a planet like the one we were privileged to grow up in so I will continue this year to do my best also. Happy, and especially, healthy new year to you Sabine.

  10. News to me, that omitted chapter. And I've read WITW several times and heard it read to my daughters also. As a deep admirer I suppose I should dig it out from a sense of literary obligation, but I wonder...

    WITW is chock-full of tactile detail: Mole's rediscovered home, the contents of the picnic basket, Badger's choice of weapon prior to The Grand Assault, the floppy texture of Toad's washerwoman hands. Great narrative that springs out of workaday dialogue. As it stands, I could convince myself I saw only its perfection. Would I wish to tinker with that seemingly complete structure?

    After all, I'm not facing a written exam on the book.

    Persistent memory. The guy I shared a flat with in London was a leader-writer on The Times. At his wife's confinement in hospital, he read her passages from WITW. From what certainly was the edited version.

    A failure to communicate?

    Insensitive male getting things wrong in a predictable way?

    Oh those Brits...

  11. Thank you for this chapter! How is it possible that I have never read Wind in the Willows? I shall have to remedy that.