E.In some children’s books, wild animals can successfully express their need to be left alone. In Alan Alexander Milne’s novel “Pooh Bear”, published in 1926, little Christopher Robin experiences adventures in which words come with Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, her child Klein-Ruh, the impetuous tiger, the precocious Oile and the somewhat abrupt rabbit like Heffalump or Expotition play a big role. In general, the spelling in the stuffed animal saga, which the author dedicated to his son, is intuitive and onomatopoeic, especially in the extremely sensitive and witty German translation by Harry Rowohlt. Freedom and peace find their perfect expression in Oiles’ message to everyone who thinks they have to go to their habitat: “habztun balzrück”.
In perhaps the greatest English children’s book classic, Kenneth Grahames “The Wind in the Willows”, it is another animal that is reluctant to reveal its solemnity: “The badger sends his regards, but doesn’t want to be disturbed”. The story of the friendship of the mole with the rat, toad and badger is full of dreamy summer escapades between the river bank and the wild forest. You can hear the reeds rustling and the water spirits whispering in the heat, Pan playing his opaque games.
In the woods and fields
The beauty of the book, first published in 1908, lies in the deep roots of romantic natural poetry in reality. Grahame, who took boat trips on the river with his young son, wrote about the animals they saw. Humans only appear in connection with an animal. Only the self-loving, daring toad can be trusted to interact with them. The water rat is friends with the badger – “the best of fellows!”. She explains the badger’s secluded way of life to her curious new friend Mole: “Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.” Seth Lerer, editor of the 2009 annotated edition of Harvard College, writes, “Badger is the embodiment of upper bourgeois, rural isolation ”, and he points out that the badger, as the protagonist of upper-class, rural loneliness, bears traits of the author:“ strange in society, resistant to social triviality ”. And yet it is the friendly badger, dressed like a gentleman in slippers and a dressing gown, who offers shelter to moles and rats on a winter night when they have lost their way in the snow.
My home is my castle, says not only the English badger. Badgers rarely live as solitary animals, but rather in families. Badger castles can reach up to ten meters into the earth and serve as caves for many generations of the same badger family for hundreds of years. The badgers drag green things backwards into the cauldrons and comfortably upholster their bedrooms. The clean animals deposit their excrement outside of the burrow in so-called latrines. Anyone who walks quietly through the mixed deciduous forest on these summer nights, which are still longer until Midsummer, and hides near a badger castle – so that the wind does not blow the human weather in the direction of the trunk-like badger’s snout – can keep track of them put. Around 9:30 p.m., the playful young animals poke the narrow white badger skulls out of the ground. Because of their masked faces with the distinctive black stripes that run from above the corners of the mouth over the eyes and ears, one thinks for a moment of comic films in which escaped gangsters climb out of an open sewer cover.
Gray back hair
But their broad, gray, massive bodies follow on their short legs with strong digging paws – there he is, the whole nocturnal marten. His gray back hair makes the most beautiful shaving brushes, his fat helps against rheumatism and joint pain. The animal with the strong neck hardly causes any damage in the forest. In 1954, Danish researchers examined the stomach contents of 192 badgers and found that a quarter was oats, a quarter earthworms, and then came amphibians, insects (especially bumblebee and wasp nests), mammals, birds and eggs (seven percent each, down to a single-digit percentage) ) as well as berries, snails and snakes. Wolf, lynx and bear are badger enemies, but not numerous.
In contrast, the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgard rightly complains that many badgers die in traffic in his 2015 work “Im Herbst”. Knausgard rightly observes that badgers rarely appear in folk mythology and fables. Only the hibernation of which he writes is not a continuous, but rather one interrupted by waking hours, during which the latrines, for example, continue to be visited, i.e. the metabolism does not stop completely.
In addition to Knausgard, one can say that the badger, the thoughtful, calm Master Grimbart, appears more often as the fox’s sidekick, for example in Goethe’s “Reineke Fuchs”. To emphasize its dark, animalistic, rabbit-eating sides was again reserved for a classic children’s book, the wonderful “Tales of Beatrix Potter”. When she got tired of writing about the cute Flopsys, Topsys, and Tabitha Twitchets in the world, “The Tale of Mr. Tod” was born. Again, the badger, called “Tommy Brock” as it is popularly known here, is Manuel Andrack for Harald Schmidt the fox. In fact, the fox and badger often share buildings, and so, to Tod’s great annoyance, Brock lies down in Tod’s bed. In the end, the fighting roll down the English hills, but the baby rabbits that Brock had caught for dinner are freed.