Spring in The Shire

At last Spring has decided to put in an appearance here in the UK.  At least, I hope it’s Spring and not Summer.  All too often in the past few years we have had one week of good weather and that has been it – Summer has been and gone.

What I love most about these middle weeks of May is the sight and scent of May blossom everywhere.  Some of the trees on my daily walk are so loaded at the moment that, like this one, they can scarcely hold themselves upright.

I am remarkably lucky in as much as I live in the part of the world that Tolkien drew on as inspiration for The Shire and on mornings such as today it would never surprise me for an instance were I to turn a corner along the path and find a party of Hobbits coming in the opposite direction.  The sun, the blue sky and the lift in the air would tempt even the most stay at home Baggins to fill his knapsack with provisions for second breakfast and elevenses and set out along the highways and byways.

My walk today took me along the banks of one of the tributaries of the Brandywine, just right for dipping your feet in when the road has become dusty and you feel in need of a little something to revive your spirits.  After all the rain we’ve had in the past six weeks it’s running quite fast at the moment, but if we have much more of this wonderful sun it will diminish to a dribble and then feet washing won’t be quite so easy.

Of course, in the Autumn all this changes.  Then thoughts inevitably turn to Black Riders.  At that time of year I always stick to the lower path, which is inaccessible to horses.  They have to stay on the upper road  and I am free to hide behind ancient trees like this until I have checked out just who it is clip-clopping their way through The Shire woodland.

If the good weather continues for the rest of the day then I might even go down to Ted Sandyman’s mill this afternoon.  The current incumbent is of rather more hospitable nature than the miller Bilbo and Frodo knew and I can be sure of a pot of tea and a bun.  While I’m all for second breakfast and even elevenses, nothing beats afternoon tea.

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5 thoughts on “Spring in The Shire

  1. I would love to take a walk with you. This sounds a lot like some of the conversation my family had while making the circuit of Addison’s walk, in Oxford.

    1. Samantha, when I was still lecturing full time the first thing I would tell my students was to look out of the window and take in the colours of Autumn in the Shire. Once you make that sort of connection with books that are important to them you can take them anywhere.

      1. That’s a wonderful image and a great idea. This past summer, I took to reading “Elizabeth and Her German Garden” in my local park – surroundings that made the book come even more to life. I wonder how many books can be enhanced by reading them in the proper season. Perhaps all, but I also found a poetic juxtaposition in reading “The Summer Book” in the dead of winter. Something to think about. In any case, you’ve made me long to visit England yet again! Best wishes for fall.

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