Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crow & Toad

Have refined the postcard sent by Crow a few days ago into something that could be from 1908 when Kenneth Grahame wrote 'The Wind in the Willows'. It's funny to think that there were only a handful of cars on the roads then and no highways at all. The west was industrializing and people were leaving the countryside in droves to get jobs in factories. It would be true to say life for most people wasn't as bucolic as appears in the Golden Age stories but if you were middle class, as Grahame was, then the countryside was pristine and as beautiful as the story implies.

A couple of nights ago I looked up my favourite chapter in the book to see if I could post a link. It's called 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn' if you'd like to read it. A baby otter has gone missing from home and as his father waits by the riverbank with fading hopes for his return, Mole and Rat decide to search.

Now I'm off to bed a little earlier than usual. We both have the flu and I'm looking forward to Crow's homecoming so he can ply me with brandy for once. I'll be back when health and inspiration return.

Stay cozy and take your vitamin 'C'.


  1. If I am remembering correctly, it was this story that the psychedelic band, Pink Floyd, was referring to when they put out an album of the same name. And now to go blip that song...

    PS. hope you get to feeling better soon!

  2. Lovely piece, could be a fabulous illustration in a book!

    Sorry to hear you are unwell. Hope the brandy cure works quickly.

  3. Beautiful work! I am going to read the chapter you linked, as I am not familiar with the story (and my now-favorite cat is named Willow).

    The flu? Oh my, that is awful. I am glad you are resting. Not that this event should provide you with a need, but I wonder if you have yet experienced any of Canada's health care system. Do you have a family doctor yet? I hope so, just to be prepared.

    Take good care of yourselves.

  4. Look after yourself and get well soon, Susan!

    The picture has worked out marvellously. Crow in the back-seat will probably be able to save Mr. Toad from the worst consequences of his fecklessness, so that Badger, Ratty and Mole won't have to go and rescue him again ...

  5. Again a very excellent illustration. Hope you feel better soon.

  6. The flu? Canadians don't get sick! :)

  7. You finished the picture beautifully! It really is special. Hope you feel better soon - I've been sick with probably the same thing. It has taken a month to be well again. Take lots of Vitamin C!

  8. Crow is looking very well in the postcard, which is very dear indeed.

    Feel better, you two! :-)

  9. i think i may have come across Crow the other day, or a relation. has be been to northern alberta recently? i was walking the dog in very deep snow. slogging along ankle, then knee, then thigh, then waist deep, as the end of the loop of walking trail along the creek that i like had gone from somewhat travelled to little travelled to not at all as i neared home. We've had several feet of snow since christmas. the Maestro was having the time of his life, as i'd let him off leash to make his way through snow that was sometimes over his head. no hardship for him; he's like a dolphin in it, and just as happy. but i was grumpy. and cold. and wet with melting snow up to my waist.

    and Crow, or his relative, called from a huge spruce tree at the side of the invisible trail. i was wishing i spoke the language, as he went on at some length. even Maestro stopped frolicking to gaze up and listen. so i forgot about how wretched i felt, and thought about Crow and his travels the rest of the way home. thanks, Crow.

  10. oh, and i hope you're well soon. there are some bad bugs going around.

  11. I love the finished version although Crow is taking his life in his hands!. Here's hoping you feel better soon Susan

  12. I've never read it. Must add it to my list. I will admit to you and crow that He-weasel and I are presently reading Winnie the Pooh. Neither of us read it as children and as he is sick and I am tired that there is something delightful about reading a book intended for innocents.
    I hope you are feeling much better. Brandy and fruit cake cures anything, or so I here.;-)

  13. I love the gentle colors and atmosphere of the postcard.

    And that chapter is a standout - Grahame at his most eloquent and creating a context for the entire book. Several spots in the story seem to hint at larger things and a larger world (like the chapter where Rat almost wanders away to follow the rover). But this chapter opens the possibilities the widest.

  14. Thinking of you and sending healing energy for that flu stuff to go away. I'll be on the road starting tomorrow, but I have a new laptop to stay in touch.
    Get well soon, say hello to Crow and have a tip o' that Remy for me.


  15. liberality - You're right about the album title but there's no song called that. I always was fond of Astronomy Domine though :-)

    marja-leena - I'm glad you like it but that particular book has been illustrated by far more talented people than me :-)

    Definitely feeling better after lots of red bush tea. Will hold the brandy for Crow's return.

    lydia - I hope you read the chapter. Kenneth Grahame was a truly marvelous writer who recalled his childhood in a similar setting to an amazing degree. From that perspective it's just a short step to magic.

    No Canadian doctors consulted yet, thank goodness, but good to know we can at need.

    francis - Thanks for the good wishes.

    I thought about a post I may still write regarding how so many of us are in Crow's shoes, sitting in the back seat of a vehicle driven by a mad Toad.

    mrmacrum - I'm so glad to see you've been by and glad you like the illustration.

    randal - The only difference being Canadians don't get punished financially to the same degree.

    nancy - Thank you. It was the best I could do between bouts of illness. I hope you're recovered now too.

    pagan sphinx - Goodness only knows what Crow gets up to when I'm not watching :-) Thanks for the good wishes.

  16. gfid - It wouldn't surprise me in the least to know Crow had been in the far north recently. There's nothing he likes more than having the wind beneath his wings except, of course, his brandy and fruitcake :-) That sounds like a great walk but one that would likely be the end of me - at least until I recover more fully. I'm glad Crow was able to take your mind off your troubles on your climb back out of the snowbanks.

    Thanks, I am feeling better.

    jams - Glad you like it. Crow is a daredevil but that must be part of what it means to be immortal, eh.

    belette - It was only recently I learned that AA Milne wrote the play version of Wind in The Willows. I hope you both enjoyed Winnie and friends and will go on to read Wind in good health and spirits.

    I'm grateful for your good wishes and do feel much recovered.

    steve - I'm happy you were able to come by to see it even though it's a technique I'm unlikely to work through again. I really don't like losing all the white at once :-)

    I agree it's an absolutely heart-stopping chapter mixed in as it is with all the more ordinary cares he describes. The ability infer transcendence is a rare quality.

    spadoman - I'm sorry I wasn't able to come by a wish you a good journey but I will come by to see your reports from the road. Stay safe and let me know if you see Crow on his way home.

  17. This is marvelous. Sophie and I read The Wind in the Willows a couple of summers ago. I'll have to pull it out and read that chapter again.

    When the kids and I talk about what it would be like to live in other eras, I always preface it by saying "Only if I can be rich or comfortably middle class....." I am shallow, but if I'm going to dream, it's certainly not to be the maid.

  18. oh dear, cried portly, susan has the flu-bug.
    "give her some sugar water," said the rat.
    "don't forget to add warm brandy," nodded the mole.

    your postcard is adorable. your art is truly magical.

  19. Hi Susan,
    I was thinking about the same thing the other day since both my late parents were born in 1910 and during their childhood horse travel was the main means of transport apart from rail and boat.

    I hope you are feeling much better soon – as good as the amazing charactersso aptly painted - in the brand new old car and in the book 'Wind in the willows' !!

    The previous post about the alemma with the figure 8 photo was interesting. Apparently there are
    2 independent reasons for this. E.g. The Earth is tilted on its axis 23.5° in relation to the plane of its orbit around the sun and its orbits in an ellipse rather than a circle.

    Best wishes

  20. lisa - I'm very glad you like it. It's always pretty funny when people imagine themselves as having been famous in a previous life, isn't it? I wouldn't want to be the maid either but living in a little house near a stream would have been fine too.

    sera - Welcome back and I hope all is well with you now. I am feeling better, thank you, and in the midst of being moderately non-verbal while exploring the possibilities of current levels of hand-eye coordination. I'm happy you like this one and hope you saw it full-size.

    lindsay - I remember my dad telling me it cost a ha-penny to ride to market but a penny to return because the horse had to pull uphill.

    I am feeling much recovered, thanks. I always loved the hand made cars of the early years and that story is a beauty.

    I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the analemmas too. I know the reason why they appear but it's still pretty amazing to see.

    All the best.

  21. oh for heaven's sake, i am very behind here!! i love this, you have such a wonderful eye for the perfect touch of fantasy, whimsy with a bit of the wry sense of humor you possess...this is so wonderful! i shall come back to read this tomorrow as i am tired of this screen tonight but just your telling of it brings a few tears of just-perfect sweetness. i am hoping this bug was not so horrid as it seems it well, my friend.xox

  22. linda - Never worry about missing something I do because you aren't able to hop around the blogs every day. I don't either and I also work very slowly. In fact, some days I do nothing creative at all. I'm glad you like this one and hope you get to read the chapter.
    I hope you're well now too and watch out for wild toads driving antique automobiles :-)