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!
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!
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.
Donago Greenhaven buttoned his new fawn-colored waistcoat. As a rule, hobbits don’t tend to dwell on overt fashion and vanity, but he loved it when his mirror reflected a brightness to his image. From the top of his reddish-gold curls, to the bottoms of his hairy feet, he wanted to appear cheerful, intelligent, and ready for any adventure that might await him over the next hill.
Donago plucked at the red handkerchief that peaked in a triangle out of the upper pocket, making sure it stood out. Tonight he was especially interested in making an impression. Traveling hobbits had arrived in Little Delving, bringing wares for the market, presents for friends, and news of the other regions. He wanted to share in it, the busy world of those who worked, and those who dreamed.
He beamed at himself, at his own bright eye, at the dimple an inch from the edge of his mouth, and his one crooked tooth. He’d been told that he was born ready to grin, and that he’d no doubt die with a last bit of laughter on his lips. He looked fine. From the little round window that overlooked his garden and the distant fields to the west a breeze filtered in a whiff of the sea. The scent must have traveled for many miles, must have flirted with clumps of silver grasses and coasting birdwings, holding its essence to arrive in his room and call to him. It always made him laugh.
“All right!” he told it, forgetting his finery as he hurried out of his bedroom and then outside his hole. His intention had been to visit The Brown Barrel, Little Delving’s busiest Inn, and hear the tales that might be told, but that could wait. The sun was just setting, and all around Little Delving hobbits were lighting lamps against the night. His hole was in the last mounded hilltop of Little Delving, and he was at the end of the row. His second cousin on his father’s side had left him the small abode in an intricate will in gratitude for making him laugh right when he’d been frightened of death. Donago loved his house, for it made the wilds beyond Little Delving seem like they belonged to him alone.
Over there, further west, was the sea, beyond the downs, and, he was sure, the end of the world that could be known. His relatives and friends all told him it was too far away to send him any whiffs. But he knew better. He trotted over the hilltop, through the knotted grasses that needed a good shearing, to where the land leveled and became silent. It was there he loved to settle, and climb a tall tree and dream. From the top of that tree, branches swaying only a little from his hobbit weight, he could see the downs peaking in the distance in the daytime and the blue nuance of stars and wind at night. And sometimes, if he was patient, he could see the tall and stately forms of elves on the far road. They seemed to float as they walked, round globes of light like tiny stars around their heads, graceful with patience, yet rushing towards elfin dreams of new worlds. They were going to their ship at the Grey Havens. He felt akin to them. He felt sure they would understand.
But tonight an unpleasant surprise awaited him, one that dimmed even his most inborn laughter. He could see them, a circle of intruders standing around his tree. This tree that was just flowering the multi-colored blooms it had put out for a hundred years. The tree that had been planted by a hobbit so long ago that no one remembered his name. On the edge of their village it had waved a farewell to the village to those who left it, and it always shared its beauty with great energy. But today it looked beleaguered, for reaching up he saw several hobbits sawing and hacking. Some others he didn’t recognize were standing there behind them, looking dark and impatient. He saw money changing hands.
It was true, he didn’t own the tree. Someone else in Little Delving owned the property it grew on. Someone else saw it as a blot on the edge of the road that could otherwise be widened, or as a chore when the leaves fell and made a mess. He stood there, the light dying out of his eyes, until he ran forward in dismay.
“What are you doing?” his piping voice demanded, his bright clothes helping him to stand out. “Never tell me that you intend to cut down this tree?!” His voice was incredulous, and the group in the circle turned to stare at him. He stood frozen, a picture of misery, until his usual purpose returned to him. Darting, he pushed them all aside. He climbed the tree, making no more noise than a rustle, and disappeared into its tallest branches.
Exasperated, those at the bottom called up to him, threatened him even, telling him that his next post would be in a jail. But he clung tight and refused them. Then, since it was so late, the wood-choppers decided to go away, and return to their task in the morning.
That left him, swaying now at the top, staring at the distant night sky. Perhaps this was the last night he could sit here, where the inanimate world of tree and sky merged with the dreams inside him, drawing out yearning for beauty and a longing for a true tale to belong to. Bowing his head, he gave himself to it. Alone with the sure surface of the branches, and the soft light of the blossoms, he cried at the loss.
But he was interrupted. A voice spoke, from a person who had climbed to sit beneath him, moving as silent as only a hobbit can when it wants to hide away from big people in the grasses.
“What is this I see?” the voice asked, in tones that sounded like music. Donago lifted his head, shocked, and blinked open his tear-soaked lashes. An elf was sitting there, one with long silky black hair and eyes as blue as the night around them. Donago tried to hide his pain, but he’d never been any good at hiding his emotions. The elf reached out and touched his cheek.
“I’ve never seen a hobbit weep. You’re creatures of laughter, rather. Tell me, what has upset you?”
Donago sniffed. In all his life, he told no truer tale.
“They’re going to cut it down,” he said, sounding as forlorn as a five-year-old. “This tree that’s stood here so long, and while it’s blooming too!”
The elf tilted his head. He looked around, at the new stars peeking through the leaves, and nodded his head in understanding.
“Ahh,” he said.
Donago said no more, putting his head down on his knees. Sometime before he lifted it, the elf disappeared. But in the morning, although he stared with anxiety from his perch, no returning group of wood-choppers came. Breakfast passed, and then onto luncheon, but still no one came to finish off the tree. At last he climbed down. At the bottom he found it, a letter written on the finest parchment. It was addressed to him, although he had no idea how the elf had discovered his name.
‘To Donago Greenhaven, of Little Delving, on the morning of Mid-Spring,
I came upon you ready to leave my home in Middle Earth. I’ve seen many things in my travels, and seen the loss of many spots of beauty. I’ve heard Dwarves stomp under the mountains until the earth shook, and watched tinkling waters wash away dust from the rocks like glass. I’ve seen men quarrel, elves grow weary, and woodland creatures birthing in their burrows. I’ve been frightened, loved and touched by mysteries no mortal can understand. But I never expected to be moved by a hobbit’s tears. Because of you, I’ve had to fall behind my companions, and waste one more day in Middle Earth. I’ve had to walk into your little village and plead, and then make payments. But, in return I leave with a little more grace, knowing that a heart like yours exists here in this land I leave behind.
Take this, as my last work in your Shire, and the last gift I care to give. I’ve had it drawn up with all the proper legal documents that hobbits require. This bit of land is now owned by none other than Donago Greenhaven, and I leave the tree you love in your care.
Journey forward, little Halfling, and remain ever the hobbit that saved a tree because of his tears.
Your friend, an elf of the Grey Havens.’