Friday, September 16, 2011

Dolce Domum

There is one chapter of The Wind and the Willows that I can never read without weeping: Chapter Five, Dolce Domum. In this chapter Mole is consumed with the wondrous adventures of his new life with Ratty and Mr. Toad, out exploring the huge amazing world, and then, as he is in the woods with Ratty, thinking of anything but the life he left behind, he catches a whiff of it, the scent of it: home.

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! Why, it must be quite close by him at that moment, his old home that he had hurriedly forsaken and never sought again, that day when he first found the river! And now it was sending out its scouts and its messengers to capture him and bring him in. Since his escape on that bright morning he had hardly given it a thought, so absorbed had he been in his new life, in all its pleasures, its surprises, its fresh and captivating experiences. Now, with a rush of old memories, how clearly it stood up before him, in the darkness! Shabby indeed, and small and poorly furnished, and yet his, the home he had made for himself, the home he had been so happy to get back to after his day's work. And the home had been happy with him, too, evidently, and was missing him, and wanted him back, and was telling him so, through his nose, sorrowfully, reproachfully, but with no bitterness or anger; only with plaintive reminder that it was there, and wanted him.

This is what happened to me this week. I've been so consumed with happiness in my new life in Greencastle; for the first time in my life I've been having insomnia, because I'm too happy to fall asleep. And then, it happened: I had that whiff of home. Mine was an auditory rather than an olfactory whiff. It came in a video posted for me on my Facebook page, from Boulder church friends, of the church choir's performance of the rousing anthem, "Sing Hosanna," which they perform every single year for "kickoff Sunday," the Sunday after Labor Day when the choir returns after a summer hiatus. Usually I've signed up to be an usher for the month of September, so I'm always at the back of the sanctuary as the choir is practicing, and I can't help but dance to the song as they belt it out.

When I heard the song, in the recording posted for me on Facebook, I became Mole, catching that whiff of what is so dear, so familiar, so forever-beloved. Home! Oh, home - oh, home - oh, home.

I still love it here every minute of every day. I still can't sleep for the very joy of it. But I'm glad I'll be returning home for fall break next month, to go to church, and hear the choir, and be with all those friends I love so much: "The call was clear, the summons was plain. He must obey it instantly, and go."

1 comment:

  1. O,Claudia, we are kindred spirits. Chapter five and Mole's longing for home is one that I have reread many times. The Wind in the Willows was a book I read in 5th grade and it was the book that made me want to be on the inside, to be the creator and not only a reader. I remember how I read slower and slower because I couldn't bear for the book to end.