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.