Day 11 – There’s Something More to Our Sam

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:

Our hobbits start their third day, and we’re with them for the first five miles. The crux of the writing is actually spent at breakfast. But soon Frodo decides to leave the road again, cutting through the woods toward Buckleberry Ferry. Pippin protests, but mostly he just wants to go to Stock and drink beer. It is good that they leave when they do, as Sam sees the Black Rider in their old campsite from a mile or so away. The woods and brambles are much slower going then Frodo figured.

Camera: Tru-View (Diana Clone, circa 1960) || Film: FujiChrome RDP (100D), x-pro as C-41, expired 10/1997

Camera: Tru-View (Diana Clone, circa 1960) || Film: FujiChrome RDP (100D), x-pro as C-41, expired 10/1997

Thoughts on the Passage – p 86-90 (of the 50th Anniversary Edition)
Today we learn a bit more about Samwise Gamgee. In the first part of the book, Sam is little more than Frodo’s gardener. Sure, they’re friends well enough, but mostly he’s not Frodo’s peer. Early on, we see a slight hint of what’s to come with Sam, however. Sam is in the Green Dragon with the miller’s son, Ted Sandyman (the Shire’s very own Scut Farcus). They’re talking about the Elves moving west and Ted is being a chump. Anyway: “‘They are sailing, sailing, sailing over the Sea, they are going into the West and leaving us,’ said Sam, half chanting the words, shaking his head sadly and solemnly. But Ted laughed.”

Sam, here, is nearly a poet. This is more than we might have expected. And in today’s passage, Sam is more, still. Frodo was thinking of what to do next, and trying to figure out how to dump everyone off at Crickhollow (where he was supposedly going to live) while he set off for Rivendell. Frodo said to himself: “It is one thing to take my young friends walking over the Shire with me, until we are hungry and weary, and food and bed are sweet. To take them into exile, where hunger and weariness may have no cure, is quite another – even if they are willing to come. The inheritance is mine alone. I don’t think I ought even to take Sam.”

For me, it was easy to recall the idea that Sam was merely going along to protect Frodo. That, like a good servant, friend and gardener, Sam would follow Frodo into Hell itself. But next I was reminded that there was something more.

Frodo then asked Sam if he felt any need to leave the Shire now that he had finally seen Elves for himself. Sam replied:

“Yes, sir. I don’t know how to say it, but after last night I feel different. I seem to see ahead, in a kind of way. I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can’t turn back. It isn’t to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want – I don’t right know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire. I must see it through, sir, if you understand me.”

Frodo did not, but concluded that “Gandalf chose me a good companion. I am content. We will go together.”

When I read this, it sort of took me by surprise. It’s easy to miss. Because of his nature, it’s easy to miss a lot of what Samwise Gamgee says. And I’ll admit, I missed this the first few times I read it. But if we’re smart, we’ll pay attention. Sam is no ordinary Hobbit and he’s not simply following his master. He’s not even just following his friend. Tolkien argued in a 1964 letter that Sam only becomes paternal after Frodo is injured at Weathertop (and we’re not there yet).

What drove Sam was never explained, and soon his love for Frodo would take over whatever selfish motives he had (I don’t mean ‘selfish’ in a nasty way). But it could possibly have been the same thing that drove Bilbo to have his adventure with the Dwarves. Maybe there was a line of Took in Sam’s blood, or maybe he was just influenced by Bilbo as Pippin and Merry were. But be watchful, there’s something more to our Sam.

“Shortcuts make long delays.”

Thoughts on the Exercising
I love this project. I’m feeling so great right now (I’m writing a few minutes after getting off the elliptical). Five miles hardly seemed like enough. And to be honest, before hopping on the machine, I seriously contemplated just skipping today. I felt sort of washed out. But now I’m quite the opposite. My thighs, which had been hurting a great deal, hurt a lot less. My arms are now what’s aching. But now it’s a good ache. I sprinted (well, “sprinted”) the last quarter mile, and now I think I’ll try to do that more and more each day. We’ll see how that works out.

  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 51
    • 12 miles to Farmer Maggot’s
    • 84 miles to Bree
    • 189 miles to Weathertop
    • 407 miles to Rivendell
    • 1,728 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Walking south (but not too south) through the woods. (Map)


Day 10 – Distrusting Wizards and Elves

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:

Camera: Ansco Color Clipper Film: Kodak Portra 400NC (expired 01/2003)

Camera: Ansco Color Clipper
Film: Kodak Portra 400NC (expired 01/2003)

Another four miles brings us to only the second camp our hobbits have made since setting out. They have been on the road for two days, but it has taken me ten to get to Woody End. Of course, they’re traveled 18 and 28 miles the first two days. Today’s four miles were covered quickly, Frodo, Sam, and Pippin walking with Gildor and the other High Elves. When they got to Woody End – a clearing overlooking the town of Woodhall, nearing the Brandywine River – the Elves quickly built or made appear a sort of hall. Hewn tree trunks were their seats and the bows of trees their roof. It seems quite similar to how the Elves in Mirkwood held their outdoor parties. Gildor and Frodo stayed up talking.

Thoughts on the Passage – p 81-83 (of the 50th Anniversary Edition)
The walk itself is covered in only a single, beautifully-written paragraph, while the rest of the chapter is the conversation between Gildor and Frodo. Here is where two of the most famous Lord of the Rings quotes are spoken.

First, Frodo explains that Gandalf is late, and that gave Gildor pause: “‘I do not like this news,’ he said at last. ‘That Gandalf should be late, does not bode well. But it is said: Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.'”

Second, Frodo counters the advice with a much-needed bit of sass: “‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo, ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.'”

Gildor had never heard that one before (so he implied), but agreed nevertheless. He then went on to be an exemplar of the idea. After warning Frodo that he should not travel alone, Frodo asked him to explain the Black Riders. “‘Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?’ answered Gildor. ‘Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly. Ask no more of me!'” It’s a lovely part of the narrative that the reader doesn’t know anything more about the Nazgul than Frodo.

Two other things caught my eye. The first thing that Frodo asked Gildor was whether he had seen Bilbo (he had – twice). I love that he brought that up first. The Elves rescued them from the Black Rider, and by that time Frodo pretty well understood that it was about the Ring. But still, he longed most to see Bilbo.

The other thing was the second use of Elf-friend. This time, Gildor subtly hints at its weight: “The Wandering companies shall know of your journey, and those that have power for good shall be on the watch. I name you Elf-friend’ and may the stars shine upon the end of your road!” Still, it seems more of an honorary title given out of a sort of friendliness, but this time it’s like Gildor is knighting Frodo (in a way).

Yesterday, I called Gildor (and most Elves) dickish. This was deserved, but in the end, Gildor redeems himself: “Seldom have we had such delight in strangers, and it is fair to hear words of the Ancient Speech from the lips of other wanderers in the world.” That last sentence packs so much.

Whereas the Elves at first called the hobbits “boring,” here, Gildor telling Frodo that they were delighted to have met them. Also, when they first met and Frodo spoke a greeting to them in Quenyan, Gildor actually made fun of him. Now, however, he told Frodo how much it was appreciated.

Why can’t Elves just be nice from the start? First impressions seem incredibly difficult for them. Take this line from the Children of Hurin: ‘And Mablung [an Elf] hailed him, crying: “Turin! Well met at last. I seek you, and glad I am to see you living, though the years have been heavy on you.”‘

You couldn’t just stop with “Glad I am to see you living,” could you, Mabby? Just had to be a dick about it.

“Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.” (of course)

Thoughts on the Exercising
No DailyBurn ads today! Thank you! Now I feel quite a bit better about my flabby self. Again with the four miles, but hey, even I deserve a break. Besides, it brought me squarely to Woody End.

So after ten days of exercising, I feel quite a bit better (except where I have legs), but I’ve gained five pounds. Is that weird? I’m not really sure. But since I’m not really in it to lose weight (just to get into better shape), I suppose I’m okay with it. I’d much rather see it go the other way, however. All in all, I’m pretty happy. And I hope you are, too!

  • Miles today: 4
  • Miles thus far: 46
    • 17 miles to Farmer Maggot’s
    • 89 miles to Bree
    • 194 miles to Weathertop
    • 412 miles to Rivendell
    • 1,733 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Finally to Woody End – the second encampment of our hobbits! (Map)