Rivers and other flowing substances…

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.

Our area has been in the news lately, trouble as well as change has made some of the long-time residents uneasy. But…

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?”

            “Hear what?”

            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.

            “No indeed.”

            “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.

 

A hole block of houses went down this week in North Bend, as well as their accompanying cherry trees…

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.