Wassail, traveler, and welcome to The Gable Grey -- a place of retreat, of renewal, and of resistance: a tree-shaded refuge in Dark Times. Now pass the threshold, and rest from journeys! For a cold wind is blowing; and here, if you wish, you may hear tidings of the world without...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

As part of my effort to jump-start my writing engine, I have been rereading The Lord of the Rings for the past couple of weeks. It's the first time since I saw the LOTR films in their entirety, now going on four years ago. I have to say that it is a strange, enjoyable experience. There is much that I had forgotten; and there is much more that I had not noticed before.

I had always been aware of Tolkien's love for the natural world, and for the words used to describe it: words like stone, tree, stream, hills, wind are prominent everywhere. I am coming to the realization that, of all the myriad characters of the epic, one stands above all: Middle-earth itself. More interesting than any Noldo lord, Dwarf-warrior, Ent, Orc, or wavering Man, Middle-earth too dominates the story even more than the permeating malice of the Ring. Black chasms, fiery chasms, great rivers, sweeping forests, festering swamps, gullies and hillocks and mountains named and unnamed, are both the stage and the actors.

The voice that describes these natural places and phenomena is careful, pointed, loving, as near to Tolkien's ideal of sub-creator as is possible, I think. I do not believe in God, but if I did, and he let me in on the secrets of the Beginning, I think I might find his methods of creation strangely familiar as a reader of LOTR.

But Caradhras has just defeated the Fellowship. Ahead, the long dark of Moria...

And the long dark of another birthday. Monday I shall be thirty-seven. I have not yet decided how I feel about that. Best not to think about it too much, probably. I have accomplished much that I desired to this point, yet much remains un-accomplished, and some goals seem as far from fruition as ever. My family and I are still in Mississippi, and not Montana, where I left a good chunk of my spirit eleven years ago. I have not yet been published. And... well, hell, I can't think of anything else at the moment. Not so bad, after all, I guess. But "Time is the fire in which we burn," and it's getting warmer all the time.

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Whiles carried o'er the iron road,
We hurry by some fair abode;
The garden bright amidst the hay,
The yellow wain upon the way,
The dining men, the wind that sweeps
Light locks from off the sun-sweet heaps --
The gable grey, the hoary roof,
Here now -- and now so far aloof.
How sorely then we long to stay
And midst its sweetness wear the day,
And 'neath its changing shadows sit,
And feel ourselves a part of it.
Such rest, such stay, I strove to win
With these same leaves that lie herein.

-- William Morris, from
"The Roots of the Mountains"