Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - When I need a cozy chair, a good book, and a cup of tea

Although the illustration was titled "Ratty's House", I have been told this is indeed Mole's House by Inga Moore.  :)
The temperatures have plummeted and the leaves are beginning to lose their green.  The furnace had to be turned on Friday evening. We wore jackets to the farmer's market Saturday morning.  My husband, who is cold even in July, also wore a knitted hat.  It is indeed the season of early Autumn.

Having seen the long range forecast last week, I had set the large chicken from the freezer in a Pyrex dish to defrost in the frig until it could be made into soup.  A very good thing indeed for we needed the chicken soup yesterday for our cold bones as well as our soul.  Brrrr...

The news tell us of all kinds of frightening happenings all over the world.  Even everyday life seems to be more a struggle for many.  I do find solace in the Word of God and in beautiful lyrics and music which remind me of His love and sovereignty.  I hold them dear to my heart in this age in which we live.

But do forgive me and not think me a heretic if I say I have recently been finding peace between the pages of favorite books.  True, one finds the way to Salvation only in the Holy Book.  But there is much to be said about the power of Story and as God created it all... I believe He understands.

So more than a few times this past week (and since the re-doing of the Study), I have been eager to return to my overstuffed 1990's era hunter green chair, the quite old piano bench style footstool with faded tapestry, a cup of tea on the tea table at my side, sometimes a Maine Coon kitty, and always a book.

These are usually the days I prefer old favorites and when possible... old volumes.  But I do admit to using the Kindle App on the iPad from time to time (have I mentioned it was the best birthday gift ever, with the exception of our family being together for a week).  Hubby has been reading a book on the original Kindle.

There are authors and titles I particularly love this time of year.  While newer books were on the Kindle, old friends were brought from the shelves and dusted off.  Most are still awaiting their re-read, a couple to be read for the first time, and one in particular already being enjoyed.

For it is the perfect time to re-read one of my all time favorite works of fiction, that being The Wind in the Willows.  I don't think of it as a children's book, it is much more a weary grown up person's book if you ask many of us who return to it quite often.  A book that talks about my favorite things like home and friends and food.

Ratty and Mole by Angel Dominquez
There are a couple delightful cream of the crop scenes that always bring a smile.  Both are spoken by Ratty, whom I love dearly.  For if Mole is my decorating role model of which I have written, Ratty is my culinary companion.

From the very beginning he is quite wonderful with his explanation to his new friend, Mole, about what he has packed in the picnic basket...

"There's cold chicken inside it," replied the Rat briefly; "coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscressandwichesspottedmeat gingerbeerlemonadesodawater..."

Later in the lovely chapter named Dulce Domum, we enter Mole's house which Ratty describes as...

`What a capital little house this is!' he called out cheerily. `So compact! So well planned! Everything here and everything in its place! We'll make a jolly night of it. The first thing we want is a good fire; I'll see to that--I always know where to find things. So this is the parlour? Splendid! Your own idea, those little sleeping-bunks in the wall? Capital! Now, I'll fetch the wood and the coals, and you get a duster, Mole--you'll find one in the drawer of the kitchen table--and try and smarten things up a bit. Bustle about, old chap!'

You really must read the entire chapter and how Ratty goes about showing Mole... who has been apologizing at how dusty and shabby is his little home... that his place is quite lovely and that there is a feast to be found in the simplest of foods.

Many of my favorite meals have been just the kind Ratty makes in this chapter.  When my children were younger, my favorite picnic to pack was what I called my "Loaf of bread, jug of wine (juice), and Thou" collection.  Which usually included good bread, cheese, fruit a beverage, and sometimes perhaps a summer sausage to slice if we were quite hungry.

I adore such food so much that our Christmas Eve meal has most often been a collection of homemade appetizers.  The restaurant Stephanie chose for my birthday dinner was a Spanish style tapas place (I have sinned by envying my son-in-law's business trips to Spain!).  We feasted on a quite elegant selection of little dishes... albeit fancier than Ratty's meal and amazingly delicious.

But I digress again... kind of... sort of.

When the weather turns cooler, it is such a perfect time of year to read books that talk about houses. I have a few Gladys Taber books on my shelf that I return to each Autumn.  Isn't she wonderful?  I wish I had more of her books but I'm so happy to have what I do.  How I would have loved to settle by her fireplace with a cup of hot New England cider and a long chat.

Of course, are there any better books that talk about homes then The Eliot Trilogy by Elizabeth Goudge... The Bird in the Tree, Pilgrim's Inn (known as The Herb of Grace in England), and The Heart of the Family. Although it is the middle of a trilogy, it was suggested my first Goudge book read was Pilgrim's Inn and since that time... it is the book I also suggest to a new reader.

Sometimes my cooler weather reading takes me to a place instead of a house.  A very precious blog reader sent me at one time some vintage Gene Stratton-Porter books as she is one of my favorite authors.

My husband's college roommate owns property close to the original Limberlost area and we have driven by it before.  One of the books waiting in the stack to be read is The Song of the Cardinal.  (It is actually free for the Kindle, perhaps because it is not as well known as the others?)

What other books remind me of places I want to visit in my overstuffed chair?  There is always a return to Mitford!  Jan Karon has a new Mitford book which I hope to read someday but I have many on my shelves to re-read.

I could be here all day thinking of authors I prefer to read in cooler temperatures.  But I need another cup of coffee with a teaspoon of Splenda and a dollop of cream.   I may pop a DVD of Last of the Summer Wine in the player to watch a program or two (did you know the writer had the friends from Wind in the Willows in mind when he created this show about three elderly men who wonder around getting into various "situations"?).

But I will soon return to my overstuffed chair and my book and my tea (coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon).  Perhaps to ponder again why some titles and various authors tug at my heart when the weather turns cool.

*All book links are Amazon Associate


My Cottage Diary said...

Such great books you've mentioned, Brenda. I have read a little Goudge, but not the ones in your post. I will have to remember to check one out from my local library. I found The Song of the Cardinal a little tedious (it's actually about cardinals), but Girl of the Limberlost is one of my favorite books. I thought Freckles was pretty good also. I loved The Wind in the Willows and must read it again soon, too! Have you ever read Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster? It's another one I really liked. Thank you for being so faithful to share good reading on your blog! We had to turn on our heat as well, but it's supposed to warm up to 80 today. It's too early to have a low of 33! Many blessings to you and yours, Bess

Rebecca said...

I believe this shall be my winter of Goudge. I don't know how I've lived 65 years w/o reading her!

Today (after a good Sunday nap), I am going to being Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim Tale by Ian Morgan Cron. It came highly recommended--is about a discouraged megachurch pastor who travels to Italy to trace steps of St. Francis. It is supposed to revolutionize one's spiritual life. I'll see..... :)

Keri said...

Thank you for yet another lovely Sunday Afternoon Tea post! I always enjoy these, although I don't always comment.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I agree with the previous commenter! :)

Bookie said...

Delightful to see some favorite authors' names here today. Our weather dropped to very chilly/cold but it is on the way back up so maybe yours will too. Now for an Indian Summer. I have been thinking of rereading some of my Tabor and Sarton and L'Engle have urged me on to make it a winter project.

Ann said...

Reading a good book always takes me away from all that surrounds me. I find that so refreshing and relaxing
nowdays with all the "news" that bombards our weary minds and hearts every day. There are so many things about which we can do nothing and it can be tiring just constantly hearing about it. I steal away with my little Kindle and am whisked away in time.

lynneinMN said...

we left on a road trip to Buffalo, NY last Sunday, and are heading back home to MN now. Spending the night in Wooster, OH. When we left home, the temp in this area was, a crisp 61. Back home, though, its 49. i'll take this brief respite! Your chicken soup sounds wonderful, and will be on our menu when we roll back home Tuesday...God's Blessings! Lynne

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the book suggestions. I'll have to check out those authors. I read Jan Karon's latest book and it's good.

Kathy said...

Thank you for more books to check out. I enjoyed Pilgrim's inn. You introduced me to Jan Karon, and I love Mitford! Just read Somewhere safe with somebody good, and I really enjoyed it. I wish that I knew a Father Tim.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I can't wait to read Jan Karon's new Mitford book! It's on my birthday list!

I adore rereading favorite books. I don't know if I have a certain book/books that I like to read during different seasons, but I feel that way about the Little Women movie. It seems a winter/Christmas movie to me, and that is when I watch it every year!

Enjoy your reads!


Deborah Montgomery said...

I too love Ratty and Mole, and have re-read that book a number of times. I love to re-read old favorites, and since fall seems a nostalgic time, it's the perfect time to do so. I enjoyed your post.

Living on Less Money said...

I'd like to change the kind of books I'm reading this winter. What would you say the theme is for most of these books?

Have you written any book reviews on the titles listed? Or what book would you recommend if you could choose just one?

Judy said...

We also love "Wind in the Willows" - and the illustrations by Inga Moore are delightful.
If you've not heard the audio version by the English playwright/radio personality, Alan Bennett, it is worth borrowing from the library. Each Christmas Eve afternoon we listen to him read the chapter, "Dulce Domum" - tracing Mole's longing for home to Ratty's cheerful assistance as they tidy it up and prepare a simple meal to share with carolling field mice.
Ah yes - there are stories outside the Scriptures that speak to us. They feed and nourish in lovely ways. said...

Thank you so much for the recommendation of these books, especially all of the FREE Kindle books by J.S. Porter, what a deal! Trying to find these free Kindle books takes a long time, so I appreciate this help in choosing good, clean, stories.

Mama Squirrel said...

I have a library hold on the new Mitford book.

Anonymous said...


There are actually 9 Gene Stratton Porter books for the Kindle that are free. I just went to Amazon to see if they were still offered, and they are. At the Foot of the Rainbow, A Daughter of the Land, The Fire Bird, A Girl of the Limberlost, Her Father's Daughter, Laddie, Michael O'Halloran, Moths of the Limberlost, and The Song of the Cardinal.

Ahh my friend, confession is good for the soul (chuckling). My sister-in- law grew up in Spain, and she's offered to take me along on a Europe trip sometime ... if only money grew on trees! ; 0)

Enjoyed your post ... such a cozy, autumn type post.

Pam (SD)

Anonymous said...

Envying your cool fallish weather. It was 108 in San Diego today. I reread Wind in the Willows this spring, finally. I will be rereading it much more often. Thank you for the lovely post!

Connie in San Diego

Unknown said...

What a lovely, newsy post full of books and beautiful word pictures!!! Thank you! I grabbed the Kindle Porter title and hope to read it soon. You've convinced me to add into my reading pile Wind in the Willows. I recently read it with my 9 yo but I'd love to go through it again slowly for myself!

Anonymous said...

Brenda, I am sure the picture at the top of your post is Mole's house (not Ratty's house). It may not seem like a big deal, but you MUST give Mole credit for his cozy home! (-: The picture comes at the end of the chapter "Dulce Domum". It's one of my favorites from Inga Moore's illustrations. I LOVE her work, but HATE the abridged version! I have to read the original, then look at her pictures separately as I go along. It's too bad she completely omitted the chapter "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", as I would loved to have seen her illustrations of that. -Joy