And also, he thought about the horse… How is she, there alone in the fog?
There’s a great article going around on hedgehogs in Slavic folklore as keepers of wisdom and I have to say, the Russian animation movie mentioned in the article, Hedgehog in the Fog by Yuri Norstein, is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen (and the source of the featured images in this post). Do watch it if you have 10 minutes!
It’s based on a fairy tale by Sergei Kozlov (1940-2010) – you can click the link to read 4 of his tales in English. Even in translation they still have a dream-like atmosphere.
The following tale, The Hedgehog, is a fairy tale of the Mari-el, a Finno-Ugric ethnic group, who have traditionally lived along the Volga and Kama rivers in Russia. The story has been translated by Zeluna.net and it’s worth following the link for more.
When autumn came a hedgehog sensed the approach of winter as he was walking through the thick grass. So he began to collect fallen leaves, dragging them into a pile to build himself a warm shelter. The hedgehog then began to look for a hole to stay in. As he looked he came to a willow hare.
“What do you want with all these leaves?” the willow hare asked with surprise.
“I’m preparing a warm winter nest,” the hedgehog explained.
“Oh please build me one,” the hare begged.
“How can I not help such a good friend,” the hedgehog said.
Delighted the hare ran into the thicket.
The next morning the hare laid down in his warm burrow when along came the fox.
“Friend hare, how did you get such a nice burrow?” the fox asked.
“The hedgehog built it for me, I’m sure if you ask him he’ll build one for you,” the hare answered.
So the fox went and begged the hedgehog to built him a burrow as well which the hedgehog agreed to do.
Next the wolf found out that he could get a warm burrow from the hedgehog so he went to the hedgehog as well. The hedgehog was worried that he wouldn’t have time to build his own burrow if he kept building it for everyone else so he tried to refuse but the wolf bared his teeth at the hedgehog.
Seeing no other choice the hedgehog agreed to build the wolfs burrow as well. But before putting down the leaves in the bottom he brought up jagged rocks from the creek and laid them under the leaves. The wolf jumped down into his den thinking it would be soft but hit the jagged rocks.
“Ow, what have you done? The wolf complained.
“I don’t really know how to build a burrow,” the hedgehog replied.