Saturday, 6 July 2013

A Summer Reading of Beatrix Potter

I have decided to read the entire World of Peter Rabbit in one go. With obvious comfort breaks for food, sleep and family interaction. I think that reading all little twenty three tomes in order is definitely the route to the richest Beatrix Potter experience. For example, if you read The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle before The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, because you carelessly skipped from 3 to 5, then you will not know why Peter Rabbit's jacket has shrunk and might be tempted to blame this erroneously on the impeccable Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, nor will you know why old Mrs Rabbit's red cotton pocket-handkerchief smells of onions when in fact she deals only in knitting, herbs, rosemary tea and rabbit-tobacco "(which is what we call lavender.)"

However I am going to start my Potter Log with Little Tome 5, The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. For reasons that were delightful indeed, today was more than the perfect time to be reading the washer woman's story.

Last night we climbed Brackenrigg, and a nasty old time of it we had. The ferns and bracken were above our heads, though luckily Prince Charming was lofty enough to see a way forward! No possible purpose could we find for the jungle, other than to provide nourishment for bugs more sustainable than our blood. Yet when Lucie arrives at Mrs Tiggy-Winkle's door she sees the "clothes-props cut from bracken stems". Maybe I'll venture back over the fence tomorrow when I will have done some laundry of my own!

This afternoon we leafed through the Mountain Rescue Team's annual report, and saw that one of their call-outs last February had been to the search for a missing child. All it stated was that there had been no injuries, so we chose to deduce that all had ended happily.  This was, however, what immediately sprang to mind when "Lucie scrambled up the hill as fast as her short legs would carry her". I wonder if contemporary readers shook their heads in disdain and asked where Lucie's parents had been, or maybe reminisced about the days when they took off into the hills for days at an end with only an apple in their pocket, aged eight.

The best bit for me was at the very end where Potter notes for potentially incredulous readers that she has "seen that door into the back of the hills called Cat Bells", as Catbells is just exactly where we spent lunchtime today, with an hour or so either side. It is a lovely hill to climb; Wainwright described it as "a place beloved", and it is. It must have some of Potter's magic for sure. We got out of the car to put on our boots, and driving into the space right next to us was one of our oldest friends.      Our adventure in the Land of Beatrix Potter continues x


Betty the Wood Fairy said...

I think I could be one of 'Potters potentially incredulous readers' I do love the stories but had absolutely no idea that reading them in order created a bigger picture! clearly I need to read them all again. I will enjoy reading your posts about Peter Rabbit and his friends. Betty

M.K. said...

This is so idyllic, Mags. Lovely. I feel you've taken me on a tour of Potter's woods and books and mind. And to discover a dear old friend too -- that's wonderful! Enjoy your time there! I'm wondering if perhaps I should join you in a Potter Read-along. I'm finishing an Elizabeth Goudge at the moment, but might join you when that is over :)

Thistle Cove Farm said...

"Rabbit-tobacco" is what we called some kind of weed that kids used to smoke. Nasty stuff or so I'm told, I never tried it...I have a tad bit of sense, after all.
Have a GREAT time in Potter fortunate woman!

Lisa Richards said...

What a fun project for the summer! Enjoy your reading! :)

GretchenJoanna said...

Oh, my, how splendid. I think Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is my favorite BP personage, maybe because I like doing laundry so much.

The best thing I did when in the Lake District was to visit the stone circle near Swinside in the south...but even if you were interested in visiting that lonely place, your boys are probably too young to appreciate it.

Your summer reading plan, however, seems perfect for family sharing!

Jen said...

What a wonderful idea--I think I may do it too. Perfect for summer--all the charm and whimsy!

Isabelle said...

Hmm, B Potter is among my gaps. I never read her when small and when my children were little, did buy one or two but found the language somewhat... wordy - though the pictures are lovely. Maybe I was unlucky in my choice or maybe my children were just too young at the time.

But then I've never somehow fancied reading the Brontes so - I'm aware that I need to plug a gap or two... .

Have a lovely holiday!

El Perro Blanco said...

Enjoy your Pottering!

The dB family said...

I MUST do this! How neat that you get to see it all in REAL!