12 June 2008

Dulce Domum

He saw clearly how plain and simple -- how narrow, even -- it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one's existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to; this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.
~ The Wind in the Willows
Mr. F recently began re-reading The Wind in the Willows. T.Q. mentioned that he thought Toad was an addict and I was intrigued. As I had not read it myself since I was a child, I picked it up as well to see what a jaded adult eye could reap from its pages.

The description above of Mole’s emotions towards both his old home and his new adventures by the River in Chapter Five touched a nerve somewhere deep inside me. Having moved to the “big city” of Washington, D.C. almost eight years ago, I have always thought of myself as a bit of a geographical schizophrenic, with my heart attached to the terra firma of the homestead and my body and social life firmly ensconced within the concrete halls of the nation’s capital.

Like Mole, I have grown quite a bit in my sojourn here and indeed the pull of the upper world (is) all too strong….the new life and its splendid spaces…and all they offer. I too can count (on) this place which was all his own….and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome. There is a special bond between a soul that lives on the land, surrounded by the both the beauties and horrors of nature, and the very dirt one plays and plants in ~ my familial roots are anchored deep in the red Virginia clay of home.

But the luxury of being able to escape from the stride of the noisy city to the languorous pace and silence of the country cannot be counted on forever. One’s parents will not live forever and either one must step in to save the family home or let it go to strangers who may or may not keep the land that one’s family has worked so hard on. Couple this longing and familial responsibility with the necessity of cultivating one’s soul and artistic endeavors and the dilemma presented is of Solomon proportions.

Such a wrenching choice is not thrust upon Mole. He is free to live out his adventures on the River, expanding his borders and horizons. If he wants to return to his old home in the meadow, it will be there, patiently waiting; ready to welcome him with open arms. Mole is lucky too in that he has already made that dreaded yet necessary leap: he knew he must return to the larger stage. And he can do so without heartache because of his ability to return whenever he wishes, to the comforts of the familiar.
I must confess I envy Mole...just a tad.
Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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