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Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Year With Beatrix Potter & Friends - October

Between 1885 and 1907 the Potters spent nine summers at Lingholm along Derwentwater.  Beatrix was free to wander in the woods.  Here she could let her imagination play.  It was the summer of 1901 that she first did the sketches for today's story.  In this photo from the movie "Miss Potter" you can see St. Herbert's Island, which became Owl Island in Beatrix's story. . . .

credit:  Momentum Pictures

This map will give you an idea of how far Derwentwater (at top of map) is from Esthwaite Water (lower right), near Hill Top. . . .

This is why Jemima will be taking us on the long journey (25 miles) in Farmer Cannon's cart. . . .


QUACK!  We are headed for Derwentwater where our tale takes place.    Quack!  Hop in the cart and I’ll tell you the tale about Squirrel Nutkins tail on our way to Derwentwater. . . . 

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
as told by Jemima Puddle-Duck

Squirrel Nutkin and his brother, Twinkleberry, along with lots of other squirrels live in the woods along the shore Derwentwater.  There is an island in the middle of the lake called Owl Island, named after Old Brown Owl.  One Autumn they all decided it would be nice to gather the nuts and acorns from Owl Island so they went down to the lake and made little rafts out of twigs. . . . .

They spread out their tails and sailed their little rafts over to the island using sticks as oars. . . .

They brought an offering of three fat mice for Old Brown and asked permission to gather nuts from his island. . . .all except Nutkin, that is, who chided Old Brown with a riddle!

“Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tote!
A little wee man in a red red coat!
A staff in his hand, and a stone in his throat;
If you’ll tell me this riddle, I’ll you a groat.”

But Old Brown just ignored Nutkin. . . .

The other squirrels filled their bags with nuts and sailed home. . . .

The next day they came back and brought a fine fat mole this time. . . .

Again, Nutkin teased Old Brown by telling another riddle while jumping up and down and tickling him with a nettle. . . .

Old Brown took the mole and went in his house.  Nutkin told another riddle through the key hole then played marbles with oak-apples outside Old Brown’s door. . . .

On the third day Twinkleberry and six other squirrels went fishing for minnows for Old Brown, but not Nutkin.  He once again told a riddle, but Old Brown just ignored him. . . .

On the fourth day the squirrels brought six fat beetles each wrapped in a dock-leaf and fastened with a pine-needle pin.  But Nutkin was as rude as ever as he sang another riddle. . . .

On the fifth day the squirrels brought a present of wild honey.  It was so sweet and sticky they licked their fingers. . . .

Nutkin skipped about singing another silly song.  Old Brown was getting disgusted by this time.  QUACK! . . . 

The squirrels filled their sacks with nuts while Nutkin played ninepins with crab apples and green fir-cones. . . . 

On the last day the squirrels brought a present of a new-laid egg. . . .

Nutkin was as obnoxious as ever singing another riddle. . . .

This time Nutkin got carried away and made a flying leap onto Old Brown’s head!  All the other squirrels ran for the bushes. . . .

This was TOO much!  QUACK1  Old Brown carried Nutkin into his house and held him by his tail intending to skin him! . . . .

But Nutkin pulled away leaving half his tail behind!  If you meet Nutkin now and ask him to tell you a riddle, he stamps his feet, throws sticks at you and scolds, "Cuck-cuck-cuck-cur-r-r-cuck-k-k!". . . .

You can hear Beatrix's version here. . . .


This is the Royal Ballet's performance of the tale. . . . 

Beatrix first heard about the squirrels on St. Herbert's Island in 1897 when a lady who lived on Derwentwater wondered how the squirrels got there.  In a picture letter to Eric Moore, one of her former governess's children, she drew squirrels on rafts using their tails as sails.

In 1901 she wrote a story about the squirrels for Eric's sister, Norah. . . .

Beatrix already had a tame Owl and acquired two squirrels as models for her illustrations.

These are my practice drawings for the month. . . .

This is Beatrix's illustration that I've chosen to draw and paint. . . .

My drawing. . . .

My watercolor. . . .

Peter Rabbit offers us some Common Sense manners learned the hard way by Squirrel Nutkin. . . .

"Squirrel Nutkin, who did not ask Mr. Brown's permission to gather nuts, shows no deference.  People in positions of authority should not be pestered with insouciant rhymes and teased with impudent antics.  Do not provoke your elders and betters, or you may come to the same end as Squirrel Nutkin and lose your tail!"

.•*¨`*•. ☆ .•*¨`*•
Take Joy!


  1. Another great post, that I really enjoyed. I love all the illustrations, yours are going from strength to strength. Love the watercolour.

    1. Thank you Lorraine! I have just changed my watercolor photo. As I was going to bed last night I was telling my husband that my painting on the blog doesn't look like my painting. He suggested I try scanning it rather than photographing it. So I did just now and reposted it. Now it looks more like the actual painting. I should have been scanning all along!

  2. I have always loved the image of the squirrels on their rafts heading out to Owl Island. Yours is a lovely recreation of it.
    Funny how words, from across the globe, can play with things going on elsewhere in our lives. My father's name was Eric, and for years we plied out of our local harbour with the boats often leaving in a row, just as the squirrels sail forth. Then, just this last week, the local lifeboat was replaced with the new "Norah" ~ me being a bit silly, but I tend to notice such things.

    1. Thank you, Deborah. As I just explained to Mamasmercantile above I tried scanning my painting instead of photographing it and reposted. I'm much happier with it now because it looks more like the painting. That is very interesting with the names! Gives me goosebumps! 😊

    2. Scanning does make a difference! I like this even better {than my memory of the previous} I have heard a few friends say they prefer the results of a scanned image of their work too.

    3. Photography is affected by the light you use. I probably took a dozen photos yesterday in different lighting situations and still was not pleased with the result. Scanning is the way to go from now on!

  3. You've come a long way on your practice & it shows! I especially loved the watercolor!

  4. Lovely tales of Miss Potter are certainly timeless. It's always enjoyable visiting and seeing your interpretation. Light certainly affects our photos from rich to watered down. Glad to hear you found scanning to be more to your liking. Good suggestion from your husband. I love seeing the squirrels traveling to Owl Island in your watercolor. ♥

    1. Thank you, Martha Ellen. I almost didn't do this illustration because it just wasn't coming together like I saw it in my mind's eye. It's still not quite what I envisioned, but passable for sharing. I love the whole idea of squirrels building rafts to get over to the island. I wonder, though, how they really did get there!

  5. Cathy, I've learned more about the Little Books than I ever expected! I'm so glad you are doing this project, it is informative ans so fun! Squirrels can be naughty!

    1. I'm so glad to hear that, Elaine! Around here squirrels are entertainment for my dog, Gabriel. And I have one (?) that visits my mini birdbath outside my desk window along with the birds every day. We have gray and black squirrels, but I don't believe I've ever seen a red squirrel like Nutkin in these parts.

  6. Another great Beatrix post, and this time I like YOUR painting better than the original. Yours is set in the Spring [from the colors at least] whereas Beatrix's definitely looks like crispy brown Fall. And the squirrels remind me of all the wild, mischievous red squirrels we had around when I was a kid. Once we moved from our summer-community home out to a rural area, my Dad used to go after them when a BB gun. Apparently they were a major headache for him, gnawing on wires & constantly making nutshell messes etc. Other things I can't quite remember too. Lots of grumbling was heard from my Dad in conjunction with the red squirrels. I'm not sure we had other kinds [brown, gray etc] but we surely had the red ones at the "new" house, and Dad was NOT a fan. I liked the page from "Peter Rabbit's Little Guide to Life" too. I'm going to look for this. If all the pages are like the one you showed today, it'll be worth it - and entertaining too. 🍁

    1. Why thank you, Janet! Every month I've included something from the Peter Rabbit's Little Guide to Life. Look back at them and you'll see they are all like that--taking something from the story where the animal misbehaved.

    2. I remember the Peter Rabbit pages at the end of your posts, and now I've seen enough of them that I think i NEED to have this book myself. Too cute - and true! 💛

  7. Squirrel Nutkin is one of my favorite B. Potter stories; what a little imp he was! You're paintings are coming along nicely, I see that your consistent practice is really paying off.

    1. Thank you, Jeri. Nutkin was a rascal, indeed! I love that Beatrix always sees that those who misbehave suffer the consequences or at least make up for their mischief (as in the Two Bad Mice)

  8. I love little Peter's wise guide to life. A wonderful post again on your BP theme. She was an amazing lady, so observant, so in tune with children and the world of animals around her. If I saw your painting instead of Potter's I would think it was Potter's. You are getting really good! Have a good weekend.

    1. Thank you, Dotsie. They don't make a "blushing" emoticon apparently (don't people blush anymore?!), but that is what I am doing right now. ❤️

  9. A lovely tale for Autumn, your painting as always is wonderful. Sarah x

    1. Thank you, Sarah. I'm always glad to know when a Britisher likes my Beatrix Potter posts!


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