A bit of white
It was a day for adventure. A hard day at school, a difficult time with my family ... I needed something suitably distracting. Adventure. The world was practically shouting my name. It had snowed a good seven inches about a week ago, and the snow was still thick in the quiet places of the world. I could hardly deny the call when I had been practically aching to spend a good hour in the cold snow. And since I no longer had compelling reasons not to, and my mother was half distracted talking to her mother-in-law, I knew I was being called to go somewhere.
I armed myself with my "Gandalf Staff" - a strange looking dead tree or branch with a gnarled tangle of roots at the top I'd found on a distant mountain that had nearly defeated me - a heavy coat, snow boots and a sense of adventure. At 3:15, I could no longer contain myself and burst forth into the snowy world with a sense of growing excitement. It was a day for exploration and adventure and discovery.
In spite of the fact I've lived for four years in my house, it still feels like I'm going somewhere new every time I pull my boots on and go outside in the snow. I revel in this fact, enjoying the sensations of the chill laden air, the sparkle of sunlight on snow, the crunch of ice beneath my foot, and all the sensations that make up a sunny day after a good snow.
I ventured into a familiar meadow, now greatly changed from when last I ventured there; since the closing paragraphs of "A Walk in the Woods", I had not visited "my" meadow, nor the woods beyond. In truth, I'd been just a little scared of what I'd find. No longer. My staff and the yet white snow were enough to protect me from whatever I inwardly feared.
I followed the footsteps of the deer across the meadow to a large gap in the fence that kept the meadow from the woods. Excitement filled me as I looked out into the barren trees that seemed to stretch for miles. I recognized nothing of what once had been my favorite abode; it was all different from this angle with the bright snow laying heavy on the ground. My heart seemed to beat faster. I felt a foolish grin come to my face. Life had a kind of new appeal and excitement on the threshold of what is familiarly unknown.
I took the plunge and ventured deep into the woods. Did I perhaps recognize that felled log from the pre-snow days? That outcropping of rock? That tree? The whole world seemed bright and new and fresh - following the deer tracks once more, I walked through the woods, feeling foolishly like a Took who has discovered they love adventuring.
I found my bearings based off a huge, gnarled tree, and slipped through the fence back into a sheltered part of the meadow, rather then risk losing myself in the denser parts of the forest.
There were no deer tracks to follow any longer the way I wished to go, so I set out on my own through the meadow, feeling as if I was in my own private world. A car roared down the hill beyond the shelter of the trees that hid this part of the meadow from the road, but it seemed to me like something far away and possibly unreal. The snow, the shade, and the sense of rising adventure in me were all that came across to me as real feeling.
I ventured back into the forest to save myself the walk back through the snow to get to the roadside. Slipping back into the scene of so many stories of mine I would never write about, I came out into the clearing by the road. Turning to look behind me, I leaned heavily on my staff and admired the beautiful view. I knew some part of me belonged here, some part of me loved the place ... the wildness, the untamed quality ... the otherness. Satisfied with that conclusion, I kept my walk.
It occurred to me I must be a strange sight to any who would chance upon me walking along the roadside; a girl clad in brown and khaki, wearing a long duster of khaki and carrying a gnarled tree root. But the thought was oddly pleasing; maybe someone would see me and know I dreamed of elves and wizards. I enjoyed the scenic route, studying the contrast between sunlight and shadow, the snow on the yards ...
I came across another meadow. During the times without snow, the area reminded me rather of a dry marsh - tall grasses and springy plants I had previously only seen in the marsh that I had once lived by. Now it looked even wilder then the glade-like clearing I had trespassed through earlier; tall grasses stuck from the ground, and the footsteps of deer were even more numerous then they had been other places. I knew with instinctive joy it was a meeting place for the wild ones. I had often met an orange cat I called Radagast in that location, and I had a feeling other wild folk congregated there too.
As I stared at the scene a dog barked. I laughed, though the reason was not entirely known to me. The sound carried well through the bright air, and I felt an overwhelming wave of happiness. I continued my walk, but stopped a short time later to greet two domestic cats by the name of Melonhead and Stormy perched in their driveway on a dry bit of earth. It seemed appropriate to greet the former in elvish, as his own name was so close to the word for friend.
I walked on. A very ugly future construction site was made glorious by the snow; for some time I stood staring at it in a kind of mystified wonder. What a bit of white could do! I wondered what would happen if everyone had "a bit of white" in their lives; letting the potential brightness shine forth. I thought about the people in the world who try to let that potential brightness out and found myself wanting a little bit of brightness for myself and wondering how to achieve it.
Time to walk back. I could feel it; my path finding had come to an end. It was time to retrace my previous steps and see what there was for me to see on the other end of the spectrum. I felt a suddenly compelling to sing. In previous days, singing on walks has brought strange results, but I cared not for such things and chose simply to let forth my emotions in a song. It was not Tolkien; the words came from Anne McCaffery and her Pern novels.
Harper, tell me of the road that leads beyond this hill ...
So I sang, but many of the words were lost to me, so I began to make them up myself.
Does it wind its way to the next hold, or further on to sunset gold? Does it go beyond where men now walk? Do the winds blow cold, are there ruins old? Harper, tell me of this road ...
There were many words, but they are lost to me now, gone as many songs go. To where I have always wondered, but that is not for this tale.
As I neared my meeting place with Radagast, the little wild land that had been plunked down in the middle of a friendly, domesticated neighborhood, there was a movement to my right. I paused, and saw to my amazement deer. I felt my breath catching, but struggled to sing onward. The deer- four or five in number, it was hard to tell through the trees - stopped and stared at me. I stared back. We stood there staring at each other for some time before I ventured the words I was thinking.
"Greetings." I said at last. "It's been a long time."
I could feel how nervous I was making the deer. This worried me, so I started to walk again. Just as I was passing the wild place, there was a lone doe with a white band around her neck. The familiarity struck me - it seemed I had seen her at least twice before, for there was a kind of fearlessness in her black eyes. I tried to keep singing, but the words stuck as I stared, and she returned my intense regard.
"So we meet again at last." I said finally. "You are brave for your kind."
The deer lowered her head and sniffed at the ground.
"I thank you for not fearing me." A long pause as the doe started to move away. "If you see those to whom I long to speak, send my greeting."
Again a pause as the doe did not meet my gaze, but began to nibble at some dry vegetation sticking up from the ground. A fitting word fell upon my tongue. "Namárië." I said, smiling. Words came flooding back into my head, but before I would sing, I would move. The staff touched the hard ground before me, and my feet began to follow it.
When I turned around again, just before the wild place was obscured by houses, the doe was standing alone, staring at me. I kept walking, and the music seemed to flow wild and free from a deep place inside of me, a place I'd never been save through song. I thought about what I had seen and what I was feeling.
I was feeling oddly content, oddly happy, without the emptiness of my past encounter with deer and the loneliness after seeing my first elf. I felt full. Alive. As if something long missing had come back into my life.
I was being reborn. I could feel it deep within myself ... it had been a change long in coming, something I had longed for during the summer and fall, something I had briefly touched during my hundreds of nightly prayers to the God whom I believe in, something I had almost grasped when I was lifted and swirled into magnificent music, something that Tolkien had somehow placed in his writing, perhaps from his own love of my God.
It was something that I had felt growing since the snow had fallen a week ago. My prayers felt answered suddenly with the peace, serenity, and inner content I had been seeking since I had first heard about The Lord of the Rings and felt the pulling on my heartstrings for that bigger something, that different something ... that entirely other something that was somehow a part of deer and elves and also of God and midnight prayers and candlelit communion with an infinite, all-seeing Creator of whom I had no doubt.
As my world was being reborn, so was I. As the snow had been falling, my desire had been growing. Everything suddenly seemed connected; a discernible pattern seemed to flow from the previous year, and I came to the strange realization my life was being orchestrated, like a song. The very thought was a little bit of other. Orchestration and strange, discernible patterns leading to startling life revelations aren't exactly common - they brush against that world which I have not yet seen, but have touched, but I know is someday coming. Maybe it's heaven; maybe it's Arda. Maybe it's a bit of both.
I found myself smiling. I had been wishing for a bit of white. It seemed like my unvoiced wish had become a prayer, and my prayer was answered. A bit of white, I'd asked for. A bit of other. Today, my world was reborn. And in it, so