As a sort of New Years Resolution, I’ve decided to elliptical my way from Hobbiton to Mordor, following Frodo and Sam’s path from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Each day, I do a few miles and then read about the same miles the hobbits covered, before writing about the whole thing in the blog. Here’s today’s entry:
Ill at ease because of the Black Rider, our hobbits leave the road, though are only a stone’s throw away from it. The road splits, and they take the right fork to Woodhall (rather than the left to Stock). After climbing inside a hollow tree and resting/supping, they sing a song under the stars as they continue their journey. But hoofbeats! And another Black Rider!
Thoughts on the Passage – p 77-78 (of the 50th Anniversary Edition)
Well, not another one. This is still Khamul, better able to sense the Ring at night. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about (seriously this time).
What caught my eye was a line right before the poem (“Upon the Hearth, the Fire is Red”), which explains how the poem came to Frodo: “Bilbo Baggins had made the words, to a tune that was as old as the hills, and taught it to Frodo as they walked in the lanes of the Water-valley and talked about Adventure.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between Bilbo and Frodo. To Frodo, Bilbo must have seemed like quite the adventurer. But to us, we know that Bilbo’s Tookish side barely won out over the Baggins side. Remember in The Hobbit – “Struck by lightening! Struck by lightening!”? That’s the Bilbo we know – the arch-typical hobbit.
But Frodo was much more Took than Baggins. He was also more than a dash of Brandbuck. Bilbo, no doubt, inspired him, but Frodo was clearly bound for Adventure even without him. Just what kind of adventures, he had only the slightest clue.
When Bilbo left with the Dwarves, nobody seemed to have much of an idea what they were doing. For Bilbo, it was almost adventure for the sake of adventure (much to the chagrin of Thorin). But Frodo had reasons. He knew of the Enemy, he knew what the Ring was about, and he knew the Shire was in trouble. With confidence, Frodo agreed to leave the Shire, even to the surprise of Gandalf, even knowing that this wasn’t a ‘there and back again’ sort of treasure hunt.
This reminded me of what our three hobbits on the road to the Brandywine River actually believed. Having started the book at the time when Frodo left Hobbiton, it’s easy for me to forget that Frodo agreed only to hang onto the Ring until Gandalf found “some other better keeper.” He wanted only to leave the Shire. In his heart, however, he wanted only to see Bilbo again. While Gandalf suggested that Frodo might have to go to Mt. Doom, though for the time, Rivendell was the goal. This was all important to him, for sure, but mostly he wanted to see Bilbo again. He missed his uncle, his old friend, and longed to be in his company again, talking of Adventure and reciting poetry.
It was Gandalf who selected Sam, and Frodo put up no argument. Pippin came into the picture, but not by chance (as we’ll find out soon enough). He, along with Merry, were helping Frodo pack up and move to Buckland. Merry was to go on ahead, while Pippin was to travel with Frodo and Sam. And so Frodo believed that Sam would accompany him, but that Pippin and Merry were going only as far as Buckland.
Of course, this will all come into play not too long from now, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind. Even when there’s a Nazgul around.
Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet
A sudden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
Thoughts on the Exercising
For the next week, Sarah is visiting her kin in the great (as in large) commonwealth of Pennsylvania. When she’s here, she’s not checking up on me or anything, but I admit that I try extra hard to be truthful about the miles I do on the elliptical. If I say that I do five, I make sure that it says 5.1 on the odometer. Now that’s she’s away, however, I have no separate reason to be truthful. I’m telling you that I did five, but what if I only did four? Or didn’t even do it at all?
Well, apart from lying to you dearhearts, I would be lying to me. Not that I haven’t done that a billion times before, but this time (I swear!) I’m not bamboozling myself. I did five miles and this time, I really do feel like I did every inch of that. I mostly kept my pace up, but I’m just beat. Tomorrow, I think I’ll do four and see if I feel differently. I don’t think I could dip below that (unless I’d have to miss a day or something).
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 38
- 25 miles to Farmer Maggot’s
- 97 miles to Bree
- 203 miles to Weathertop
- 420 miles to Rivendell
- 1,741 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: Off the path, under the shade of oak trees.