Moon as feather

Moon as feather

A lyrical description of the sun, the moon, and the dreams of an otter – that he might swim, unhunted and unhungry, down to the sea with his otter-son. The metaphor makes it seem a wispy crescent moon lying smile-curved in the sky, and so resembling a falling...
A cry like …

A cry like …

Williamson pays close attention to the calls and cries of birds and animals, and here he distinguishes between the mutual call of a dog and a bitch otter. I found the description of White-tip’s cry extraordinary. ‘White-tip answered him. Her cry was like...
Big blackberries

Big blackberries

A berry crushed into service as a metaphor for a mud-mark. ‘Tarka’s deep seals in the lower ooze showed like big blackberries crushed in the mud.’   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus....
Clitter

Clitter

‘Tarka gave chase to a rabbit during the next night, bolting it from a hillside clitter of rocks in a hollow at the head of a cleave.’ This seems a variant of ‘clatter’ and you can imagine rocks and scree pattering and clattering down the hill...
Bright-bubbled barrier

Bright-bubbled barrier

I liked the alliteration of this triologism, and the recurrence of bubbles in the water-washed world of otters.  Bubbles blown by an otter can be a signal of joy or fear.  Here they are created by a line of human hunters and signal danger. ‘Way down the river...
Quaddle

Quaddle

‘He quaddled down the hard mud … ‘ A charming variant of ‘waddle’, also written ‘quoddle’. Since ducks are known for waddling, you wonder if ‘quaddle’ emerged when someone witnessed a waddle and a quack while...
Hunger-making smell

Hunger-making smell

An undertow of this animal life-loving adventure is hunger.  We must be one of the few species having a significant segment of its global population not living with hunger as a daily driving urge. ‘Food chain’ takes on new meaning as Williamson portrays...
Bubble-whitened water

Bubble-whitened water

Bubbles blow and roll through Williamson’s prose, through the ebullition of both water and otters. Otters blow bubbles when they are happy and when they’re scared. See also another source of bubbles in this beautiful book. ‘The otters drifted on,...
Tar marks

Tar marks

Otters are voracious piscivores so it’s appropriate to liken the black marks they have left to fish-bones. And let’s not forget the Greek-based unpronounceable answer to the Latinate piscivore: ichthyophagous.  Save that one for your next spelling test....

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