This is the second time that listening to NPR’s Talk of the Nation has inspired a blog post. Yesterday I heard Murray Horwitz, NPR’s film expert, on the “Summer Movie Series,” and it got me thinking. Horwitz’s topic was memorable movie meals, and the rule was that the breakfast, lunch or dinner had to be an important part of a scene in which people are sharing a meal. So, of course, while Horwitz was discussing his love of the meal in Mickey and the Beanstalk, I was thinking about meals in children’s books. There are many delightful children’s stories about food and eating, but I was trying to think of a scene that “feeds” the imagination and sets the stage for the book’s action.
After about five miles of driving, it came to me….the opening scene of The Wind in the Willows: the lunch shared by Rat and Mole on the riverbank before their adventures begin. Here it is:
“Hold hard a minute, then!” said the Rat. He looped the painter through a ring in his landing-stage, climbed up into his hole basket and reappeared staggering under a fat wicker luncheon-basket.
“Shove that under your feet,” he observed to the Mole. Then he untied the painter and took the sculls again.
“What’s inside it?” asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.
“There’s cold chicken inside it,” replied the Rat briefly; coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater–“
“O stop, stop,” cried the Mole in ecstasies: “This is too much!”
“Do you really think so?” inquired the Rat seriously. “It’s only what I always take and the other animals tell me I’m a mean beast and cut it very fine!”
How perfect is the section with no punctuation – emphasizing the utter delight and enthusiasm of both characters! My favorite word in the entire passage, though, is “wriggling.” Mole is “wriggling with curiosity.” What a wonderful image – his body sweetly expressing his joy and good fortune. I hope your weekend includes happy times and good meals…