I had occasion recently to remember that most splendid creature, the late lamented Mole of Bewsley. It all began last Sunday.
There is no other time in the week when I feel so deliciously, unabashedly molish than on Sunday mornings. There is the anticipation of a stroll down to the market and tootling on to ring the bells, to chat with chums; but first of all, and unlike all the other days when I hustle myself out of bed for an early walk, I give myself breakfast in bed.
Making my muesli on a Sunday morning is a meditative act – a pawful of oats, a strewing of sunflower seeds, a casting of pepitas, a clutch of walnuts, slivers of banana and a fling of blueberries. Soymilk poured over the lot.
And have I mentioned the bowl?
My Sunday bowl is a beautiful bowl – a hand crafted half sphere on a narrow base. It is the palest of bluish creams. Stylised robins with dusky red breasts encircle it. They are perched on branches with leaves of sage-green. The bowl nestles satisfyingly in my cupped paws. Please forgive me my flowery language, but on Sunday mornings I feel at my most deliciously moley. Molish from snout to paw, from pelt to heart. Mole in body and soul.
Last Sunday morning after making my muesli I placed my bowl on the bedside trolley, puffed up my pillows and embedded myself in the nest of doona. The sun was streaming in as it always does at that time but there was just the tiniest hint of an autumnal chill in the air, enough for me to reach for my bothy rug and sling it around my shoulders.
Perhaps the slinging was a little overenthusiastic.
The fringe of the bothy rug caught the lampshade on my bedside trolley. The lamp in turn careened and caught the bowl of muesli.
The bowl ascended, pirouetting in a balletic arc, catherine-wheeling its contents.
It wasn’t quite my life that appeared before my eyes, but the friend who had given me the bowl did, and her friend the potter who had given it to her, and the journey I had taken with it in my knapsack half-way around the globe.
My 100%-in-the-present molishness began to fragment a little. The timid dormouse part of me anguished about the up-coming smithereens – the shattering dismemberment of robins. The human in me evoked ancestral guilt and chastised me for slothful habits and lapsed duty of care towards the bowl, its maker, and its giver.
Nevertheless, most of myself was right there: gasping and stretching my little eyes in admiration at the virtuoso performance of this bowl, while at the same time being it, feeling its lightness and elegant abandonment, and being the flying oats, the hurtling blueberries, the slow deliberate ever-changing shapes of soy splatter streaking through the air.
Banana slices slithered slowly down the spines of the books on my shelves. My soy-stained windows appeared to have been side-swiped by a flock of acrobatic pigeons. My boots were filled with oat droppings. Blueberries had rolled under the desk and disappeared into the pattern of the carpet. The bowl landed softly, rolled a little from side to side and then stopped, intact and deeply satisfied.
It was in the stillness of that moment that I remembered Mole of Bewsley.
You can still see Bewsley lettered on the door of a small house on the other side of this city. Mole is sadly long gone, but what an admirable creature that Mole was. Incarcerated for a near life-time under appalling conditions, Mole never ceased in her attempts to engineer an escape. In the end it was a benevolent well-wisher, himself an escapee of sorts from the same establishment, who rescued Mole and brought her to live on his estate.
When Mole first arrived she was nameless. The well-wisher, in deference to her clearly molish burrowing instincts, named her Mole. But while Mole was clearly a mole in spirit she was no mole in the flesh. Mole was a chicken.
Mole was given every attention a mole-hearted chicken could wish for in her new abode, but her years of incarceration had made her distrustful. She didn’t quite belong.
The well-wisher was sitting on his stoop one morning, watching Mole as he ate his muesli, and wondering how he might help her feel established. He was of a spoonerish bent, this well-wisher, and as he looked at his bowl of muesli and at Mole scratching about in a desultory way, it came to him that Mole needed a place of her own. That place would be Bewsley and it would be Mole’s seat. Mole would be Mole of Bewsley, from that moment on and forever.