The Centre from Which All Queerness Comes (Day 19)

Camera: Kodak Duaflex II Film: FujiChrome Velvia 100 cross-processed as C-41.

Camera: Kodak Duaflex II
Film: FujiChrome Velvia 100 cross-processed as C-41.

Up a hill our hobbits climb, circling around it until they reach the top where they could see down into the river valley below. They took lunch and peered over the Barrow Downs – where they vowed not to go.

Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 6 (p112-113, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
Another short passage, but one that gives Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry a chance to rest and have a look around. Due to the haze, they could not see very far.

Merry, as a guide, pointed out the Withywindle, a river that flows diagonally across the Old Forest before emptying into the Brandywine River. Merry, turning once more to fables, warns his companions that the “Withywindle valley is said to be the queerest part of the whole wood – the centre from which all the queerness comes, as it were.”

The others, however, just aren’t seeing it. I suppose it’s possible that Merry doesn’t see it, either. He would know the area well enough through maps, but maybe he was trying to seem more knowledgeable than he actually was.

From the top of this hill, they could not see the Brandywine River valley, now only fifteen or so miles back. To the north, they could not see the East Road, the main thoroughfare running from the White Downs in the east, through Buckleberry and Bree, near Rivendell and beyond.

If they were not being pursued by the Nazgul, Frodo would have taken the East Road, which was a much shorter path. Since that way was watched, they were forced to parallel it through the Old Forest.

As they ate, the sun burned off some of the haze so that they could finally see the edge of the forest to the southeast. And though they cheered, what they saw was the Barrow-downs. While Merry wanted to steer clear of the Withywindle because of all the queerness, they all wanted to keep far away from the Barrow-downs as they “had as sinister a reputation in hobbit-legend as the Forest itself.”

Before long, we’ll discover just why, though there’s more more weirdness between this hill and the downs.

Thoughts on the Exercising
It’s another five mile day on the lower tension setting and I’m feeling really good. I need to work at getting my heart rate up a bit, but other than that, I think I’m getting a decent enough workout. If I keep feeling this well, I’d like to start working on my time – trying to do it faster each day (or at least keeping a steady pace once I plateau). Onward!


  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 87
    • 48 miles to Bree
    • 127 miles to Weathertop
    • 371 miles to Rivendell
    • 1,692 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: At the top of a bald hill overlooking the Withywindle (Map and Map)

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3 thoughts on “The Centre from Which All Queerness Comes (Day 19)

  1. You know, given that most of Eriador has not been tilled in a thousand years, one might expect the woods that once covered it (according to an Ent) to have returned. Why hasn’t the OF spread more, at least southward?

    • Maybe with the destruction of Beleriand and the shaping of the world, the climate changed and the forest simply can’t grow larger. Maybe the land around it is now unable to sustain tree life (too wet/dry/whatever). Or maybe it’s Bombadil. More than likely, Tolkien just didn’t get around to thinking about. Man, if only that guy would have had another 70 to hammer this all out….

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