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Date:10/22/2014 2:45:45 AM
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Sources, Part III
Last time I talked about James Herriot. This time I shall talk about Richard Adams. As I might've mentioned before, Adams fashioned the characters of "Watership Down" after British officers he had served with during WWII. I have read his autobiography. Richard Adams is, first and foremost, a lover of natural things. He, like Herriot and Grahame, idolized the nature of rural England. He was also one of the most erudite sculptors of the English language, ranking alongside Winston Churchill and Lord Wellington. (Don't take my opinion too seriously here, I am but a simple Countryman) In fact, the longest written sentence I have ever encountered, some 190 words, is in "Watership Down".

Richard Adams was heavily influenced by his father, a country doctor. Adams recounts how his father, during walks, would insist that all flora and fauna be identified by name rather than referred to as a bird or a tree, or a weed. One of my favorite pieces of "Watership Down" was Adam's description of a Summer sunset at literally ground level:

"But down in the grass itself, between the bushes, in that thick forest trodden by the beetle, the spider and the hunting shrew, the moving light was like a wind that danced among them to set them scurrying and weaving. The red rays flickered in and out of the grass stems, flashing minutely on membranous wings, casting long shadows behind the thinnest of filamentary legs, breaking each patch of bare soil into a myriad individual grains."

But my very favorite line from "Watership Down" is Hazel's exhortation to his warrior-companion Bigwig to encourage him to recover from his wounds: "Come on: it's a lovely afternoon, all sun and leaves."

I am made to think that out west in the great open spaces one experiences Nature on such a grand scale that it would cause a person to forget about its more intimate aspects. That is, to use the cliché, all well and good, but as a Countryman born and bred in the northern Midwest, I am more inclined to identify with Kenneth Grahame's sentiments: "...the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden-plot.... which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime." ("The Wind in the Willows.") More on "Sources" next time. -- Gary
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