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...

Monday, September 27, 2010

And Now, Some Words from the Red Book

     "So they passed into the northern marches of that land that Men once called Ithilien, a fair country of climbing woods and swift-falling streams.  The night became fine under star and round moon, and it seemed to the hobbits that the fragrance of the air grew as they went forward; and from the blowing and muttering of Gollum it seemed that he noticed it too, and did not relish it.  At the first signs of day they halted again.  They had come to the end of a long cutting, deep, and sheer-sided in the middle, by which the road clove its way through a stony ridge.  Now they climbed up the westward bank and looked abroad.
     "Day was opening in the sky, and they saw that the mountains were now much further off, receding eastward in a long curve that was lost in the distance.  Before them, as they turned west, gentle slopes ran down into dim hazes far below.  All about them were small woods of resinous trees, fir and cedar and cypress, and other kinds unknown in the Shire, with wide glades among them; and everywhere there was a wealth of sweet-smelling herbs and shrubs.  The long journey from Rivendell had brought them far south of their own land, but not until now in this more sheltered region had the hobbits felt the change of clime.  Here Spring was already busy about them:  fronds pierced moss and mould, larches were green-fingered, small flowers were opening in the turf, birds were singing.  Ithilien, the garden of Gondor now desolate kept still a dishevelled dryad loveliness.
     "South and west it looked towards the warm lower vales of Anduin, shielded from the east by the Ephel Duath and yet not under the mountain-shadow, protected from the north by the Emyn Muil, open to the southern airs and the moist winds from the Sea far away.  Many great trees grew there, planted long ago, falling into untended age amid a riot of careless descendants; and groves and thickets there were of tamarisk and pungent terebinth, of olive and of bay; and there were junipers and myrtles; and thymes that grew in bushes, or with their woody creeping stems mantled in deep tapestries the hidden stones; sages of many kinds putting forth blue flowers, or red, or pale green; and marjorams and new-sprouting parsleys, and many herbs of forms and scents beyond the garden-lore of Sam.  The grots and rocky walls were already starred with saxifrages and stonecrops.  Primeroles and anemones were awake in the filbert-brakes; and asphodel and many lily-flowers nodded their half-opened heads in the grass:  deep green grass beside the pools, where falling streams halted in cool hollows on their journey down to Anduin."

-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King, Book Four, Part IV:  'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit'


  1. It seems as if just not even a few years back, my older brother and I were walking along the Harrison Lake trail in Glacier National Park, MT, which was 13 miles long ONE WAY, that he ever so forgot to mention to me and our dear friend John. I can still remember how so very nervous my brother was while driving an ’84 bronze colored Ford LTD alongside a huge, bulky, rocky hillside with big yellow warning signs saying, “Watch for falling rock”. Not to mention the fact that as I was in the back seat spurting aloud with phrases of things that I was seeing such as “LOOK, A BALD EAGLE” or “DAMN! We sure are waaaaaaayyyy up”. Chris pretty much told me to shut my trap and that I wasn’t helping his nerves at all.
    Our trip to Montana was about; if not THE best trip I have ever taken’ in my years of traveling. I guess this feeling was triggered by not seeing my brother truly happy. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen my brother happy, but in our younger years, me being the little bratty brother, I have not truly experienced this side of my brother until we started talking about and finally arriving in MT. My brother was in such awe when we arrived into the park, he was a different person. His face glowed with such spirit, it rubbed off on me. I do admit though, he seemed kind of eager to look at everything, but not disturb anything, he even yelled at me for touching and ripping off leaves on a tree in the park at our camp. I thought it was ridiculous and ignored him, although I did respect his wish, “For a little while at least”.
    And so the days of walking, hiking, meeting travelers along the way, “that is another story for another day”, trying to cross rivers by swimming to the other side, “again, another story” were filled with the best tales of experiences and adventures, all of which will come to be stories both told and in our souls forever, so until the next story, goodnight brother/friend, peaceful dreams.
    Brian C.

  2. Well, I DID tell you the trail was twelve miles long. I just left off the "one-way" part, and the bit about mountain lions in the area. But we managed the bears, the storms, the switchbacks, and Gary just fine, did we not?

    It would not have been the same, if you had not been there with me, brother.



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"