Saturday, 21 June 2014

Midsummers day, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

On this most magical of days, when the dawn seems to tell us how wonderful the world is, how nature just carries on showing us the beauty around us my thoughts turn to 'The Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Graham(1859 - 1932). This greatly loved story  describes in poetical detail the beauty and charm of the River Thames through the eyes of the little creatures that inhabit its banks and the countryside that it travels through. Ratty, Mole, Otter, Badger and of course the amazing Mr .Toad. In Chapter seven there is a break in the adventures of Mr .Toad and there is a delightful interlude called 'The Piper at the gates of Dawn'. It is a midsummer evening and one of the baby otters, Portly, is missing. His father is beside himself with worry and has decided to keep watch for him near the weir. Ratty and Mole want to find the little otter and set off in their boat to look for him. the description on the moonlit night, the river and the countryside is delightful. Listening to my mum read it to me has to be near the top of the list of my favourite childhood memories .How glad I was to be safe inside with her though, I was never one for being out on a dark night. Ratty and Mole find the little otter in the most magical way, they hear the Piper at the gates of dawn who leads them to him and they find Portly  curled safely up in his lap, fast asleep. The Piper at the gates of Dawn then gives the little animals the gift of  forgetfulness., 'Lest...the great haunting memory should spoil all the after-lives of little animals helped out of difficulties, in order that they should be happy and light-hearted as before.' Once portly is joyfully and thankfully reunited with his father, Ratty and Mole go back down the river on their boat. They feel different , they know something has happened but they aren't sure what, Midsummer evenings have that effect.
Every year on the 21st June I vow I will go and watch the sun rising over the Adriatic sea and then have a cappuccino and a brioches on the beach. The nearest I have got to this was one year when my husband and I took my son to the airport to catch a very early morning flight. This is my chance, I thought. I amazed everyone by shooting  out of bed while it was still dark so determined was I to see the Midsummer sunrise,and we drove to the airport and saw my son off. Then we went to the nearest beach to wait for the sun to rise. The only problem was that Italy is not just hanging down in a straight line like a boot, which is what it looks like on a map,the angles were all wrong, the sun was not straight in front over the sea, it was round the corner. The cappuccino and brioches part was absolutely perfect though, a dream come true.

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