This will be available soon, and don’t forget my other books!
If you’re looking for another romance:
If you like a good mystery:
An all-around just good read of a story:
And last, my YA Fantasy:
I’m thrilled to have five on the table!
This will be available soon, and don’t forget my other books!
If you’re looking for another romance:
If you like a good mystery:
An all-around just good read of a story:
And last, my YA Fantasy:
I’m thrilled to have five on the table!
Little track of hobbit’s feet;
Only the sharp-eyed can see them,
With glasses big or magnifying glass,
Peer close to see where they passed.
This is how I feel these days- like I’m hiding a wealth of myself away. I’m small and insignificant- unable to affect the world. The people in my community and in the Northwest, do we see the big picture all around us- the real currents that control the fluid movement of the air? I’m glad my big person is Jesus, and that He’s holding my hand.
Forsythia Burrowbottom scurried down the overgrown lane between the cornfields like a leaf curling in the wind. She had a feeling inside that she couldn’t explain. She gripped her bag in her hands. Inside it she carried a bundle of freshly harvested herbs, still with a tangle of roots and bits of earth attached. With this clump of greenery she hoped to produce some medicine for an old friend.
It felt good to reach her small home and push open the round door at last.
“Hold fast, dear old Brindleburr,” she muttered where she bent over her chopping board, ripping at the frayed pile of herbs and holding back her tears.
Brindleburr Towhill was one of the oldest hobbits in Little Delving, and he was failing. Soon now, although she didn’t like to admit it, she wouldn’t hear his slow footstep inside her father’s shop or see his kindly eyes smile at her.
He’d been her father’s first customer right after her parents had gotten married and he’d visited the shop all the years of her childhood. Always he’d taken the time to ask after her, to bow in her direction and make her feel like she was important enough to listen to. He was a polite, solicitous, wise and very dear old hobbit- living alone in a hole not much larger than her own. For many long years he’d gone to the village shops once a week and graced everyone with his gentle cheer. You could set the time and the seasons by him.
But today he didn’t come. Today he couldn’t come. Down inside Forsythia knew that he’d never go out for a walk in the village lanes again. She picked out the tenderest leaves and sniffed.
She wondered why did life have to change? Why did the familiar things have to pass away? That quiet old hobbit with his list of errands, pottering in his slow and deliberate way, taking time to greet every shopowner and bow to smile at every child- Brindleburr Towhill had never gotten married. He’d never given the village anything large and important. He hadn’t made huge jokes at Birthday parties, or sang clever songs at The Brown Barrel. He would pass away to rest like his quiet parents had done long ago and the hobbit children who skipped down the lanes right now would forget about him.
And yet she knew that something precious would disappear from the village when he was gone- a sweet lilt of a tune would disappear like the fragrance of honeysuckle dwindled in the evening breeze.
She crushed and pressed her tiny crop into usefulness, folded out a packet to hold the medicine from her prettiest paper, stopped to pull a few extra curls out from her pins because Mr. Towhill had always admired her curls, and scurried back out into the lane.
She didn’t expect to see anyone when she tapped on the old hobbit’s door a few minutes later. Opening the door she was especially surprised to hear a round of booming laughter. She paused in the act of entering, her melancholy thoughts checked and confused.
“Ah, Miss Burrowbottom,” Mr. Towhill’s weak but courtly voice called out. “Do come in! I wonder how is it that two of my most favorite neighbors have come to visit me at the same time? How happy I am!”
She came inside, glancing at a direct ray of a sunbeam that illuminated some dust motes as they danced at her passage. There, sitting in a chair by Brindleburr’s bed, and wearing a bright red waistcoat, was none other than Mr. Donago Greenhaven. She had to shake her head. She seemed to be running into the fellow everywhere she went. Donago scrambled to his feet with a bow as she approached, as if the sick hobbit’s manners had rubbed off on him.
As of course they would. There in Donago’s eyes shone vitality and friendship, good cheer and hope. And in the bed was an old hobbit that was grateful for the warmth of her handshake.
“I’ve brought you some medicine, dear Mr. Towhill,” she said, pulling up a little stool to sit by her old friend. “It should help you rest.”
“The sight of you young hobbits have done that!” the old hobbit replied. “I’ve never seen you two together before, but if you don’t mind my saying so, there’s a spice I see in the mixture of your faces!”
She dropped her head and put her fingers on her cheeks.
“What are you talking about?” she gasped, but Donago laughed out loud again.
“You old fraud!” he said. “Lying there in bed just to get us both here and be a matchmaker!”
“It’s good, too!” Mr. Towhill agreed, almost as cheerful. “Mark my words, Donago. This little hobbit maiden is something special. She’s cinnamon buns and apple tarts! She’s brown broth with a hint of rosemary!”
Soon all three of them were laughing at how ridiculous the old hobbit was being. She got up and mixed his medicine, and after while he drank his tea and fell asleep. She tidied his little kitchen and Donago carried in some firewood. They left him tucked up in his bed and sleeping with a small smile of peace on his face.
As Donago walked her home they strolled in silence, but she didn’t feel so strange anymore. There was a new tune drifting down the lane behind them, and it was tickling her heart to get her attention. Her old friend had given his blessing, and his touch had mattered in both her and Donago Greenhaven’s life. In recognizing that, she’d grasped love, an element of the life in the village that would never fade away.
Hey everyone, the season of fun booth sales is about to start! Come to Maple Valley Days on June 13-15 and visit our book booth! Look for us under the FreeValley Publishing banner!
Check this out! I’m so excited!
I’m excited to announce my new cover, and the overhaul of the my book: Sunrise Meets the Star! Cover design by Thomas Alexander. Thanks for reading!
If you read to the end of the Lord of the Rings and on into the index you discover that King Aragorn made it a law that big people were to keep out of the Shire. To be honest, I never understood that. But now that I live in a small community, beautiful and rich, it’s beginning to make sense to me. ‘They’ve cut down more trees’, ‘they’ve put up another set of new buildings,’ and ‘they’ve primped out the corners of our streets so we can no longer take the shortcuts we used to take at the stoplights,’ these are common complaints that we say every day.
Any changes would bother me, as a Valley resident of almost 25 years. But my older friends who’ve lived here their whole lives are the ones that are really affected. They just want, like the hobbits, to keep the Shire as it has always been. Hobbits are unable to change what the big people do in the world. They want their own little land to be left alone.
But I think it would be sad if the Shire were no longer visited by any other people. After all, wasn’t it a group of visiting dwarves and a wizard that started Bilbo off on that first adventure? We may not want to turn our area into a commercial landing zone lining the insides of a few important people’s pockets. But we’d like to have the friends come; the ones with beautiful creativity and a different yet interesting point of view. The ones that share and enrich, but don’t set out to destroy. Bring on the dwarves!
Donago sat back in his favorite chair and put his hairy feet up on the hearth. It was at times like these that he thought he should find himself a friendly hobbit maiden to ask if he could marry, one that could take turns with him in keeping a fire burning in the hobbit hole for warmth. For now he felt too lazy to get up and make himself dinner. He yawned.
He imagined a little hobbit maiden with delicate ears, a tidbit nose, and a quiet manner. He smiled to himself but in looking around his hole he thought it was too messy to impress anyone. Litters of parchment filled with his drawings and his verse, still watered yet otherwise forgotten pots of flowers and herbs, dusty candlesticks needing to be trimmed; it was true he ought to get going around here. No hobbit maiden would want to stand beside him pottering in the kitchen or making food. And yet he had a nice big hole, cheery with built in bookshelves and a fireplace in every major room.
He sat up and stoked the fire. He would go out and take a stroll through the grasses towards the downs. That always got his blood flowing, especially if he went far enough to catch a whiff of the elusive seabreeze that danced on the tip of the wind just for him. A few minutes later he set off, a bluster of wind whipping down the track of the hillside and tickling him along. He felt a rise of merry laughter and let it out. Why not? He lived at the end of the row, and there was his own beautiful tree waving at him, on the land that the elf had boughten for him. He’d been pleased to discover that he owned quite a bit of land around that tree now, land that he could keep greedy hands off of forever if he wanted.
He passed the tree and entered the world beyond. He went so far he left behind the borders of the Shire. He went down the level, for he wanted distance and speed, to course along his thoughts and his future ambitions. After a long time he grew breathless, so he stopped humming and became quiet; not stealth quiet but hobbit quiet.
It was then that he heard murmuring, and the tinkling sounds of someone making camp. He tilted his pointed ears. He knew that going south, towards the far downs; you’d meet up with the road eventually, and head either deep into the Shire or go the other way, the way of the elves and the sea.
But these noises were to the North and to the Moors; a few miles out towards the tower hills, and there was no path or thoroughfare. What was up there? No Hobbits bothered to explore this expanse of land. He ducked his head and crept now, lowering himself and widening his feet to be quiet. The sun was lowering in the west, almost concealed by the distant hills. He was trying to be quiet, but the beings he was stalking were not. His heart started pounding as he approached.
For he saw a group of big people, men that to him seemed to have dark menacing expressions and eyes that danced with raucous laughter. Their fire cracked and one of them looked his way, almost right into his eyes, except that the man didn’t know he was being watched. One of the others said something and the words were sneering. The fellow in his field of vision turned his head to roar with the rest.
All of a sudden Donago sank down into the grasses. He felt like a small rabbit in its burrow. Around his beloved home predators stalked, carrying fire and big heavy boots on their trampling feet. Their gazes were set on a different horizon, and Donago wondered what it could be that they saw. But having met that fellow’s eyes he was certain of one thing.
This big intruder valued this land and its benefits for different reasons than he did. In standing and roaring, bold as brass, the man felt he had a right to go and do whatever he wished. Donago wondered what would happen if he got up and tried to question them. If he told them, even though technically they were outside the borders of the Shire for now, that they had no right to come and frighten the small creatures that lived nearby.
Or what if he came in another way? Hearing their laughter again he could almost understand them. What if he came with a song and a tale, what if he offered up a meal at his table? They might push in the frame of his round front door. They might track in mud all over his floors with their big boots. And for certain they’d eat him out of house and home. But maybe he could make them turn from frightening to friends.
He shook his head and melted away, making no more noise than a whisper or a silent scurrying chipmunk. Not knowing what was best he abandoned both plans, and got out of the intruder’s earshot. Once free into the grasses he hurried along in the twilight, eager now to return to his hole and burrow safe by the fire, make himself a solitary dinner, and read a good book. He could only hope those strangers meant the Shire no harm.
Please remember to check this out, whenever you have the time!
I wrote Dear Miklos with nostalgia in my heart. It’s dedicated to Mary Stewart, and more specifically to one of my favorite books, The Moonspinners. I love the way she would go to another country, as a tourist, absorb the environment, and then go home and write an adventure story that was set there. I wanted to go on that adventure too, all these years. So finally I wrote Dear Miklos and journeyed to Greece in my imagination. I set the story in the seventies, because I remember the decade with such fondness. Like the movies of the time, there’s a lot of soft focus!
Also, please check out my self-published novel ~ Sunrise Meets the Star. When I first envisioned this story, it was much more complicated. Epic, my two main characters were to save not one but too fantasy countries. There were hills, and coins and mystique. But when I set off to write the adventure, it became far more cozy. A quest must be embraced, a will’s intricate demands followed, and a peasant, who is an able-bodied and strong young man used to taking care of himself, must be pampered. By the end of the story, he’s no longer alone.
There’s a lot of substance flowing around our Valley, rivers and kindnesses and people dressing casual to match their dogs. But there’s too many bad substances flowing as well. Sometimes it feels like the streets are flooded and the young people can’t help but struggle in the currents. I’m asking God to ease the flow, and to let the young people find their way to shore. There’s so much more to see here in the area, and more to live for. After all, the rivers may flood but then they recede.
Forsythia said goodnight to Donago Greenhaven, and then watched him enter his hole. She turned to hurry to her own little home. Around her the night noises, which had paused at the sound of her voice, settled down and began the chorus again. She looked up, from the middle of the path that wound around the three cherry trees in her lane. Through the branches she could glimpse the blue velvet sky, paler than midnight.
A new noise entered her mind, from the nearby stream. It was rushing, tinkling and singing and speaking of journeys that no hobbit could fathom. She smiled. She couldn’t go home yet. She had still to do her night-watch. She pulled her cloak tighter around her and strolled down the lane. At the crooked Dogwood tree she left the path and slipped behind it. It was darker here, in the shadow of the tree’s branches, but she didn’t mind the loss of sight. She bent her knees, reaching down and feeling her way.
First the tangled pinch of the brambles, which were heaped tall where people never ventured and were flat to the ground near the path. Then the spiky grass which moistened her palm. And at last, nearer to the water, she felt the bobbing, welcoming softness of the river flowers. There was a narrow track here, which weaved up and over the hill-edge of the bank. She sat down, with the flowers swaying beside her because she passed.
Now she was alone with the night. The river swam by, like the inside of a diamond before its purity was frozen into stone. She knew in the daytime the river appeared green, even thick. But at night the water danced without the heaviness of perception.
Life flows on, it told her. It rushes and courses and each drop is precious. So fast it seems to slip away, bent on its own mission, unknown to anyone else. There was sunny childhood and old coldness. And there was more, always more to discover.
She smiled to herself and laid back on the grass behind her. Now she could see more than the treetops. There were the dwellings of Little Delving, some darkened like a whispered secret, and others lit by tiny gold lanterns. There, at the far end, she could just see a glimmer in the last hobbit hole before the big tree and the empty vastlands outside of the village.
She sat up and nodded. Tonight she had made a new friend in Donago Greenhaven. He understood. Rising she stretched, and then she pulled her cloak close about her again. A few drops were moistening her cheeks. The rain that fell at night demanded total privacy, sending all creatures and hobbits out of its reach. She blinked until she could see the smoother surface of the lane, and then scurried along, as quiet as a mouse. It was time to return to her own hole, and light her own fire against the chill of the evening. A nice pot of tea would be just the thing to prepare for herself, while she sat and thought about the events of the last few hours. She opened the round door of Scratchhill, and going in, she dried her feet on the fleecy towel that sat folded on the bench.
Soon the hearth was sending warmth her way and crackling, as she added honey to her tea. The rain pattering outside washed away the memory of crashing strangers and troubling rumors. She sighed and thought about a certain laughing countenance, and large hairy feet.
Two hobbits walking through the grasses at twilight was a strange sight, Donago supposed. But as he looked down at the small quiet hooded maiden beside him he grew uneasy. He glanced behind and saw the distant twinkling lights of Little Delving, and it appeared safe and at ease. He frowned, thinking of rumors he’d heard at the Inn just a few nights ago. It was said that there was danger lurking in the streets of their village, and that the outside world had finally found its way in to trouble the Shire. To some in town, they felt like they were no longer safe inside their own holes.
He wondered what if it was true. Those new hobbits had come to town and tried to cut down his tree, after all. Change comes to everyone, even here, he thought. All of a sudden he stopped walking. Forsythia Burrowbottom stopped too.
“What is it?” she asked. “Are you ready to return home?”
“Shh. Did you hear that?”
But the answer came crashing near to them. The grasses, which were so tall they were almost over Forsythia’s head, waved in distress while big boots flattened them. Whoever it was had almost reached them.
“Down!” Donago hissed, tucking her into his chest and then dropping with her. They lay still, and the grasses swayed back into place over them; concealing them. Here the stalks were stiff and soft mixed, only slightly damp from twilight’s dew. He could feel her heart beat against his arm. The big boots went on crashing, but seeing no sign of any hobbits, they didn’t pause as they passed. Soon the sound had passed along with them. The intruders were gone.
Forsythia put her head down, and sighed. She wanted to burrow deeper into the grass and hide, or perhaps she was too comfortable here with him.
“Those weren’t hobbits,” she murmured.
“Elves then? They pass near here sometimes, on their way to the Grey Havens.”
“It was never two elves that made so much noise as that. They’re quieter than hobbits, when they want to be. It’s said they can walk on top of the grass without bending the blades.”
“Then men, perhaps? Why not stop and meet them?”
Donago leaned over to look into her face.
“Miss Burrowbottom, haven’t you heard the rumors around town? That there are strangers coming, trying to change things, and some say bringing danger?”
She smiled to see his face above hers, but shook her head.
“I’ve never been much of one for gossip.”
At last he forgot the intruders and focused on what was happening here in this spot instead. His eyebrows flickered and then he smiled.
“Forgive me, for throwing you down like this,” he said, but the humor that had been missing from his nature for the past few minutes returned. She saw his face light with it, taking over until his crooked smile beamed at her. She chuckled.
“I understand why you did it, Mr. Greenhaven. But perhaps we could get up now?”
In answer he rose, getting his big hairy feet under him. Then he leaned down and helped her up. Looking around, the grasses swished in peaceful waves again. The scents of the herb-tossed breeze touched their noses, and the soft lights still twinkled behind them, calling them home. They both turned towards Little Delving, being quiet now, so quiet she doubted even an elf could hear them. Perhaps danger had passed close by to them, she thought. But home was still there, as strong as ever and waiting to receive them. Nothing really had changed.
Or is that woozy? My dogwood tree is just starting to bloom out my back window, and my lilac is purpling out the front. The smells of Spring are intoxicating!
Two hobbits wandered through the grasses, the larger one adjusting his pace so the smaller one would be comfortable.
Donago was certain that he caught a whiff, and he closed his eyes and drew in a long chest full of air. When he opened them, she was looking up at him. Two curls had slipped out from under her cloak. He gave out his crooked smile.
“My friends tell me I can’t catch a whiff of the sea so far from here,” he told her. “But I do.”
“And what does it smell like?”
“I sing a little gem about it down at the Brown Barrel sometimes. You want to hear it?”
Her gentle smile was the answer.
‘A whiff flew past of gossamer, and little bits of gleam,
Some water misted in the sky, it mixed with Elfin by and bye,
A sea bird soared and leant its cry,
So Donago could dream.
‘Some wonder why it suits me, to let my daydreams roam,
Why not feast on food and cheer, and call for songs to fill the ear,
With friends nearby I’d never fear,
Of gettng lost far from home.
‘But though my mind wanders while I rest, and stretch my feet in ease,
Low mountains blue beyond the green, little rivers crystal clean,
Flowering trees that over moss fields lean,
Create a far more potent breeze.
‘I may one day journey far to see, that distant shore and the wild sea,
I won’t know what changes are wrought, what fields are left and which holes bought,
How others treat this home I’ve sought,
To keep golden like my memory.
‘But return I will, for the Valley calls and holds a hobbit’s heart,
See a curl on a hobbit maiden, smell a hearty table laden,
Bend to laugh and never straighten,
I can’t be far apart.
I’m not sure that my blog has much to do with the valley today, except that we’re the last group of towns before I-90 climbs to the lofty distance of the pass, and I want to give a call for the city planners to remember the beauty of our old homes and our parks, which are a integral part of the history of our area.
Forsythia Burrowbottom, at one-foot-eleven, was small, even for a hobbit. Quieter than most, her mother had been fussing her whole life; for being difficult to find when she was little, and for not being loud enough once she had grown up.
“Sythia! Must you sneak up on people all day long! Can’t you hum a tune or something when you come upon me? It’s those little feet of yours that does it! I think we need to attach bells to you!”
She had mousy hair, combination silky into tiny ringlets at the end, a little tip nose, and smooth light-brown skin. Unlike many hobbits, she loved to find the sun, and to wander by herself through the fields and the far reaches beyond Little Delving. It benefitted her family, because she was good at discovering rare herbs and medicinal plants that her father then dispensed and sold in town. He paid her a salary, and it was with this money, after seven years of saving, that she had bought her own little hole.
It was at the end of Ragamuffin street, the last house in the row. It was inexpensive because it had roots hanging down from the walls in the storeroom, and ceilings that were lower than most. Her hole was named Scratchhill, and it was said that it was one of the first dwellings ever dug in Little Delving.
But she loved it. For being so small, it took in a lot of sun from its little round windows. The hearth was of rounded river stones, polished white with age. Her bedroom had its window high up, so that she could lie in bed and see the stars and the sunrise. And her kitchen was a joyful place, with built-in shelves for herb pots and jars of honey.
There was history in the walls, like there was a story to be found in the distant fields. Her mother loved to say that hobbits were not ancient people. Elves lived forever, dwarves for hundreds of years, and humans built towering cities whose ruins never completely disappeared. But hobbits were just simple folk, here today and gone tomorrow, and like the grasses they sang and danced for a short time in the world. But Scratchhill was old for a hobbit dwelling. She could feel it warm beneath her hand, like the roots of the tree that attracted sunlight to its leaves just around the hill from her hole.
Another advantage to living at the end of the lane was that she could slip out of town unnoticed. Her mother may have thought her suspicions proved correct if she had ever spotted her. Forsythia was good at sneaking past people.
Only one person in Little Delving ever noticed her scurrying by. It was the fellow that lived on the other side of the hill from her hole. Donago Greenhaven was his name. She couldn’t count how many times he had surprised her, striding up from behind as she sought for flowers in the distance, or calling down to her from the heights of that great flowering tree that stood alone, pointing towards the far away downs.
Today she had planned to be especially soft and hard to find. For she was sneaking out at an hour that most hobbits were glued to their chairs in their cozy holes; nibbling tasties after the last meal of the day, just as the sun had disappeared behind the horizon.
Every now and then she had a night-watch. It was an adventure that her mother must never discover that she took. Hood on, her cloak covering her ringlets and bundled against chilly breezes, her little feet scurried around the hill. She doubted that even the mice in the fields, the creatures that she’d been compared to so many times, could have seen her.
But just as she breathed a sigh of relief, and smiled that secret smile that meant that the night was hers alone, that cheery voice called out to her. From right on top of her, making her jump. She peered up into his tree and saw the sunny smile that he was known for around town
Donago Greenhaven, again!
“Good evening, Miss Burrowbottom!” he said. “It’s a fine night for a stroll!”
She put a hand under her throat, hoping to help her heart settle back into its place.
“Yes indeed, Mr. Greenhaven,” she managed. She hoped to scurry on, out into the wilds. But instead the tree rustled slightly before he dropped to the ground beside her, dusting off his large hairy feet.
“I’ll accompany you,” he said, as if he’d been invited.
And so the two of them, as if it were something hobbits did every day, left the township of Little Delving and disappeared like whispers into the distant fields that stretched towards the far off Downs, and the elfin shore of the Grey Havens.