Summer is over. The kids are back in school. Bilbo Baggins is about to be set upon by 13 dwarves and a wizard, where he will then set out on a grand adventure over hill and under dale. It is that time of year.
I want to see the mountains now, when the leaves change and watch the cloud shadows play across the vivid colors, sweeping down and then up, covering the land in fleeting darkness. I want to feel the cool, crisp touch of autumn on its way, not too cold yet, but just a snap in the air that might make the tips of your fingers and nose cold if you get stuck in one of those cloud shadows too long. But then the sun comes back out and pretends its still almost summer. It’s that time of year.
I want to walk the paths, familiar and new, around my old house, down to the Run, over to ‘Spirit Rock’ and the Little Dam again where as a child I never got up the nerve to jump. There were rocks beneath the water’s surface one had to avoid or legs would be broken and skulls cracked. So I was content to watch the foolish boys running and leaping and missing the hidden rocks while I sat on the dam and dabbled my toes in the muddy water beside the spillway. But in the fall, we were all content to watch the water run over the rocks, clear and cold to the touch, listening for the bell to ring us home. Sometimes, we’d rock jump across and hope not to fall in or then have to explain about getting wet when we weren’t supposed to. Sometimes we followed the line of the water, roaming its banks for hours on end, discovering treasure troves nature set in our path. It’s that time of year.
Tolkien knew what he was doing when he sent both his adventurers from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on their way in September. I’m struck by the same desire to rush out my door, down the road, with nothing more than a cloak and a walking stick, not sure what adventure I might find along the way.
Illustration by John Howe
The Road Goes Ever On and On
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.