Thursday, August 11, 2011

Three by the Sea


What a very strange little story. A black cat, a white dog and a little gray mouse co-exist happily in a hut right on the beach. They have neatly divided the household chores and live in harmony. Dog tends the garden, Cat manages the household cleaning, and Mouse handles the cooking. When you live in a hut by the sea, chores are pretty simple. 

One night, just as the trio are enjoying their dinner of cheese fondue, there is a knock at the door. A fox, nattily dressed in a yellow and brown striped suit, stands smiling on their threshold. He invites himself in and announces he is from the Winds of Change Trading Company, a company that helps fix your life, when you may not even know something is amiss. Not to worry, it is absolutely free.

The next morning, Fox observes the household, asking questions and making observations. He mentions to Mouse that it seems a bit odd that Dog plants only bones in the garden. Fox asks Cat if he isn't a bit tired of eating cheese fondue every night, and he tells Dog it seems unfair for Cat to be napping while he should be dusting. Fox opens his Winds of Change Trading Company suitcase and produces free gifts for each of them: cooking magazines for Mouse, tinned fish for Cat, and a fancy collar for Dog.

With his gifts, Fox has planted seeds of doubt in the household. Suddenly, the three friends are arguing fiercely, each feeling unappreciated by the other two. It takes a disastrous event (the near drowning of Mouse) for them to remember they are the best of friends. When they return to their hut near the sea, Fox is gone, along with their boat, but has left behind several packets of herb seeds as a parting gifts. 

From that day forward, the housemates make changes to their routine. They plant an herb garden together, and plan new meals. They share the work rather than divide it, and frolic together on the beach. So really, the Fox and his mysterious suitcase turned out to be a good thing. Or was it? These three actually were quite content before he pointed out the reasons they shouldn't be. But then he did provide them with some tools to repair their relationship. So was was the effect of the Winds of Change Trading Company? I think this is a story that is open to interpretation.      

Review copy provided by Random House.

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