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:
Five more miles brings our hobbits out of the woods and into a broad flat land. The indentation of the Brandywine River can be seen in the distance, as can Bucklebury Hill on the other side. As they tramp, Frodo looks back and can see their former campsite. He expects to see a Black Rider, but does not. Their spirits are lifted as the sun breaks through the clouds.
Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 4 (p90, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
With only a paragraph and a half, there’s not a whole lot to grab onto. This is one of the drawbacks of the project. Sometimes, I’ll have to skip huge chunks of the story (Rivendell, for example – as well as the entireties of Book 3 and Book 5). But that’s okay, I think. It’s not like I’ve not read Lord of the Rings before, and it’s not like I won’t read it again. I’ll probably even read it separately during this project.
Anyway, as far as the text goes, Tolkien is mostly describing the land. But he’s also describing our hobbits’ fear. The call of the Black Rider and the response from another (discussed yesterday) really startled them. It’s here that Tolkien begins to refer to the Black Riders in the plural.
First, being out in the open, the hobbits were even more frightened. But as the sun came out and as Frodo didn’t see the Rider on the ridge behind them, their fear left them, “though they still felt uneasy.” And as the land flattened out and they came to farmland “everything seemed peaceful, just an ordinary corner of the Shire. Their spirits rose with every step.”
This is something that Gildor warned Frodo about. “You must now make haste, and neither stay nor turn back; for the Shire is no longer any protection to you.” Frodo balked at this, wondering why a hobbit couldn’t just walk to the edge of the Shire in peace. Gildor countered: “The wide world is about you: you can fence yourselves in , but you cannot for ever fence it out.”
At the end of this short passage, Frodo is mentally fencing it out, forgetting about everything except the ordinary and peaceful Shire – now so obviously a relic. Tolkien ends this passage: “and the Black Rider began to seem like phantoms of the woods now left far behind.”
“Everything seemed quiet and peaceful, just an ordinary corning of the Shire.”
Thoughts on the Exercising
I’m a odometer watcher. As I’m ellipticaling along, I constantly look down to see how close I am to being finished. I realize this is probably not the best mindset to have, but that doesn’t so much matter to me. The real problem is that it’s like watching the clock – everything seems to move slower. This is why I watch TV while I’m exercising. Normally, it’s a half hour show, and that’s long enough to last the entire session. But today I’ve found that if I start a movie, the time goes by much faster, as I’m not rushing at the end to make sure I’m finished before the show’s conclusion. This is also a bad mindset, but it’s gotten me through today, and it was pretty easy. I’m feeling great, and though it took me a touch longer, I don’t care! It’s Monday, and who wants to feel even more exhausted on a Monday?
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 61
- 2 miles to Farmer Maggot’s
- 74 miles to Bree
- 179 miles to Weathertop
- 397 miles to Rivendell
- 1,718 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: Right by the edge of Farmer Maggot’s fields. (Map)