Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rarey

These days, a road trip requires several books to satisfy several moods. In Gunnison, with a towel stopping up the wind under the door, I took in some of The Elements of Grammar (steadying, rational, soporific) before bypassing Edward Abbey's journals and settling upon Mooomintroll and his clan in my edition titled The Happy Moomins, copyright 1952 by The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 52-5817.

The bookmark for this book is a July 9, 2001, obituary excised from page 6 of Section B of ye olde hometown paper, The New York Times.  A photograph shows Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson (who wrote in Swedish) surrounded by stuffed Moomin dolls.  Jansson is holding Moominmamma, and Moominmamma is holding—what else?—her handbag.

The third paragraph of the Times article describes the Moomins as "tubby, torpid, lazy and fond of sleep."  I would describe them firstly as gentle and lightly eccentric.

Alison Lurie's 1992 New York Review of Books piece about Jansson tells that the creatures live "in a remote and peaceful rural world."

Rotundity is a word that comes to my mind when thinking about the Moomins.  Theirs is a world of soft landings, gentlefolkitude, light hearts.

The cloth stamping underneath the dust jacket

In Chapter III of the book, the Moomin group is stranded on an island due to "the great thunderstorm." They each go exploring.  Sniff, one of Moomintroll's friends, hauls in some treasure but wants to make a deal for something Moomintroll finds:  He says . . . "Listen!  What do you say to a swap?  The raffia mat, the dipper and the shoe for that old buoy?"

"Never in your life!" said Moomintroll.  "But perhaps the life belt for this rarey object that must have drifted here from a distant land."

And held up a glass ball and shook it.  Then up whirled a mass of snowflakes inside, settling gradually to rest on a little house with windows of silver paper.

Charming conversation about the snow globe follows (the reader noticing how satisfying it must be for a small Moomin to control a snow storm in one's hand, and so soon after its cousin, a rain storm, has unloosed such furious power upon the entire family), and then:

. . . "Dear Moomintroll, couldn't we share the little snowstorm?"

"Hm," said Moomintroll.

"Couldn't I just hold it sometimes?" begged Sniff.  "On Sundays?"

Moomintroll thought for a bit, and then he said, "Well, all right!  You can have it on Sundays and Wednesdays."

Perfect for snowstorm reading. (For my part, I don't mind snow days.)

Rarey enough



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