We have been visited by deliciously unseasonal weather. Today there is snow on the mountain and a pelt-tingling antarctic breeze outside my burrow. Perhaps it will make the anticipation of Christmas more real. One of my dear molekin sent me an advent calendar this year, too. It transported me back Christmases past. Every year we celebrated the tea-chest ritual at the parental burrow. With a lot of huffing and puffing it was hauled up from our notorious cellar and was plonked ceremoniously in the middle of the parlour. The lid was eased off with the claws of a hammer and then, with as much restraint as possible we dug out baubles and paper-chains, tinsel and lights, flinging the wood-shavings onto the carpet. And our mama would retrieve the advent calendars She could never bear to throw anything away, and so they accumulated, year by year. They were displayed, precariously, on the curtain pelmet, obliterating the photographs of her children.
The more I ponder about advent calendars the more I appreciate what wonderful inventions they are. They draw out the pleasure of anticipating a major event ahead, and they also encourage us to savour each day as a separate entity. They are a rather splendid model for planning. Had we mole-scamps given a second thought to the old advent calendars, we could have opened a window for every day of the year, several years even – reflected, too, on years past.
It was this remembering the past through the provenance of each calendar that made me delve back into old murmurs. This, it seems, is the 50th murmurs of mole, and I thought I might turn it into a sort of – well not exactly an advent calendar. Over the last year you have accompanied through highs and lows, seasons and idle thoughts and writing hiccups. And you have been introduced to several members of my extended and scattered family. It seems only right that they should be gathered together as the year draws to an end. Imagine, if you can, that each of the twenty links of what I shall call my reflective calendar is a window back into their lives. Unlike an advent calendar the sequence is unimportant, allow your curiosity to take you anywhere you might like to revisit.
It all began a year ago with a snout and a little exploration. -1- I took you to St David’s Cathedral to ring the new year in. -2- And I first introduced you to Great Uncle Mole and Uncle Ratty as they changed their calendars. -3- These two were such steadfast influences on my early life, and remain be a great source of inspiration and succour. We explored encyclopaedias with them -4- , and played with maps with Uncle Ratty,-5- if not being taken on his wild adventures of the mind, -6-. We met Mathilde, Tante Mole’s terrifying companion from Mulhouse-7-, learnt of her courage -8-, and how she returned from the grave -9-. Even more alarming was the neighbour Trelawny, -10- whose field held a tale that haunted poor Great Uncle Mole into his old age -11-. Uncle Ratty’s tempestuous sister made a brief appearance -12- , as did the not so subtle Mr X and his narcissistic brother, the amateur psychologist Cousin Ezekial. -13- We have not seen the last of them. We dug even further back into the life of Molex whose life was transformed by a lantern slide show -14- , And came closer to the present with Grandpa Mole -15-And Grandma Mole who adored colour -16-. I introduced you to my familiar Monsieur Boo -17- , contemplated his life under the oak tree -18-and bade farewell to two friends,-19- and -20- in winters that make today feel like a heatwave.
It has been quite a year – but would have been nought if you, dear readers had not been anticipated, and might have faltered without your support and encouragement.