The Wind in the Willows book on end table.

The Wind in the Willows

I have never seen this movie, I do not know if this quote is in it, but, if it is not, it should be:

“And beyond the Wild Wood again?” he asked: “Where it’s all blue and dim, and one sees what may be hills or perhaps they mayn’t, and something like the smoke of towns, or is it only cloud drift?”

“Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,” said the Rat. “And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all. Don’t ever refer to it again, please. Now then! Here’s our backwater at last, where we’re going to lunch.”

I will first digress. I love this book. My well-read copy was acquired at a yard sale when I was a child. I have read it aloud countless times to my son and husband.

Illustration from the Wind in the Willows.One reason that I have not seen the movie is that my copy of this book has illustrations by Ernest Shepard and I do not want those delightful images over written or contaminated, even by Disney’s best. Another is that the book is sparsely illustrated and my imagination has filled in the gaps just fine, thank you very much. I do not want those images overwritten or contaminated either. Then there is the realest reason: Grahame was a genius at description, both of nature and of characters, there is no way for the medium of film to capture the subtlety, nuance and gentle humor that he brought to the stories.

Digression over. The reason why this quote sticks out is that it is gently ironic…most of the stories in the book take place in the Wild Wood and the Wide World. This interplay is one of the major tensions in world affairs today. If my backwater is wonderful then why should I worry about what is happening in Russia, China, the Middle East? Yet my story, all of our stories, connect through the Wild Wood and the Wide World.

Three women are sorting peas.Every place you go is someone’s backwater and can become yours. The most wonderful, life giving travel experiences are when you enter into the backwaters, and by enter I do not mean observe. Shell peas in the sun with people and you will always carry the feel of the warm sun, the joy of shared laughter (who cares if you don’t get the jokes or maybe even are the joke) and the sense of connection.

Even as we eat our lunch in our own backwaters, we connect with the Wide World. Our lunch might have tea from China, chocolate from Africa, cheese from Ireland, cherries from Oregon, wheat and apples from eastern Washington as well as homegrown tomatoes. We live in the Wide World and our backwater both.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Silver Screen.”

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