In 1908, a story was introduced of the antics of four small animals that captured the hearts and minds of children, as well as adults. Me, being one of them.
The story book was titled….“The Wind In The Willows”.
I read the book as a child and as an adult, I read it again and stored the book along with my “Little House On The Prairie” and “Anne of Green Gables “books.
The story is about a Mole, a Rat, a Badger and a character called Mr. Toad.
What is it about a book or cartoon, that makes us “love” these little critters, while in real life, these are usually among the less than desirable…. and maybe that is why they become endearing to us in the story form.
I think of the cartoon “Tom and Jerry”. I loved that little mouse and his wee little abode with the semi-round shaped hole in the baseboards…and I loved “Charlotte’s Web”, the little spider that created all kinds of phrases with her clever web. I even liked Templeton the rat, who assisted Charlotte in trying to save Wilbur the pig from the smokehouse
Suffice it to say, that if I encounter one of these critters in my daily life…they are not quite so cute and cuddley. 🙂
The author of the book, “The Wind in the Willows”, Kenneth Graham was a master story teller and you know I love to tell stories, so I immediately fell in love with the words of his little crittters.
The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality and camaraderie.
Let me introduce you to these animals, in case you don’t know them or have forgotten them.
The story begins with the Mole who is doing his Spring housecleaning, eliminating the stuffy confines of Winter.
He decides to go “up top” to breathe in fresh air and he happens upon the river where he meets the river rat.
The rat introduces the mole to his other friends, the badger and Mr. Toad.
And there-in begins the adventure.
In the first scene, Ratty packs a picnic basket with cold chicken, water cress sandwiches, lemonade and blueberry pie and many other foods.
The mole is so excited as they take a boat ride down the river and find a place to eat their lunch on the bank of the river.
It seems these little guys are always eating and the author describes each feast in detail.
Perhaps that is why I love this story.
I love food too.
The writing is superb. Example from the book:
“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 tired 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.”
And another of my favorites:
“All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way.”
But I digress…let’s talk tablescape.
Here is how the tablescape started.
A few months ago, I happened by accident onto the Wind in the Willow salad plates on EBAY!
I was giddy as I had not seen salad plates representing this story…like ever.
Now all I had to do was find my little characters, in their original CVS boxes, that I had packed away years ago.
Aren’t these salad plates adorable?
Yes, CVS the drugstore, sold them one year….and each character is encased in an oval pastel colored dome.
I couldn’t resist the urge to buy them, because of the story, and not knowing I would use them years later in a tablescape.
I knew I wanted to use the picnic on the river bank scene as the start of my tablescape.
I used a mirror to represent the river….and placed a small boat in the “river”.
Luckily, the little characters were pastel, as were the salad plates but this brought a challenge of how to incorporate the red and white or blue and white tablecloth of the picnic scene.
All the pictures I had seen were red or blue gingham….not exactly pastel colors.
But I decided to put it all together and see what I came up with…and I liked the juxtaposition of colors.
In the story, Mr. Toad was rich and changed expensive hobbies like one would change their socks.
He was always ready for another big adventure, much to the chagrin of the other animals.
Mr. Toad bought a motor car and drove it recklessly…so I knew I had to portray the car.
I also found a large figurine to represent Mr. Toad. He is dressed in Mexican attire and just seemed like something Mr. Toad would do.
I used floral chargers of the pastel blues and pinks and greens.
I sat up the picnic lunch using twig flatware and for grins and giggles, added blue gingham napkins to match the picnic basket liner.
And yes, the red gingham napkin represented the picnic tablecloth the mole and rat used for their picnics.
I was so excited to put this tablescape together that I am sure I could have found a few more pieces of glass ware and dinnerware to make it all cohesive. but I convinced myself that the animals would have used whatever they had or could find for their river picnic and would enjoy it whether items matched or not.
So there you have it my dear readers.
The moral of the story…. that no matter what adventure one goes on…Home is where the heart is.
Have you read the story of “The Wind in the Willows”?
Were you as intrigued as I?
Have a great and wonderful day