Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Hobbit's Tale

A long time ago, I decided to leave my home in the Shire.  It was too comfortable. I dreamed of far away places.  There were so many adventures just waiting beyond the borders.

"If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been." 

So I did the proper thing.  I waited my youth out.  I went to school and got my education.  When I graduated, I moved away from my people.  And I missed them.

I missed the closed and safe borders of her community. The comfort of pumpkin pies and snowy skies. The named forests and hills that are not on a "proper" map.  And yet something else called me out yonder pass the Brandywine river.  Pass the comforts of food and familiarity.

“Home is behind, the world ahead,
and there are many paths to tread

through shadows to the edge of night,
until the stars are all alight.”

The truth is I never fit in.  Most people are content with what is.  I had too many questions and I was different.  Realizing at an early age that I cannot change what is, I left my Shire. Why should one want to go outside of their comfort zone?  And yet I am hobbit.  I like comfort.  I like familiarity.  It feels good. I am connected to those forests and hills that carry the memories of my loved ones both present and gone.  But I feared comfort and complacency.  When I return home to the Shire, I see not much has changed in habit or attitude. And I also know that I made the right decision years ago.  But it's never easy.  The Shire makes me forget about the outside world. People tend their garden, raise their family, go to work like most I suppose, but it's different. It's safe.

When something is disagreeable, it's different.  It can be a cold place.  The people's faces are hard. The world is changing and it has changed the stubborn Shire against her will.  All the work has gone elsewhere. The factories are shut.  The farms are corporations. And yet some family businesses remain but they too dwindle as their children leave for elsewhere.

I carry the Shire inside of me every day by retelling the tales of my youth. Children made chestnut necklaces and played in their front yards without having to worry about some Orc trying to harm them. There seem to be more and more Orcs everywhere these days. The Shire is still a place of "hellos" and friendly conversation.  A pub to share an ale or two with a complete stranger while smoking some pipe-weed. No matter how many times I tell them that smoking is bad for them, they "huff" me off and ignore me.  Therefore I no longer lecture.  I move myself out of the room.

Slowly the Shire withers away as the population decreases. But still tradition remains in full force.  An ale for a thought. Fried cheese curds for a snack. A pumpkin pie for dessert. Followed by more food.  Because eating is the way of my people. In the Shire, we celebrate with 6 meals. Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, and Supper

And so I left the Shire my 8th grade year of school.  I went to the mountains and canyons of the great West. It was scary and exciting. I knew from that time forward, I would travel the world.  It was also on that trip, I lost one of my best childhood friends.....my Grandfather. He was only 57 years old. Today I carry his wedding ring as a reminder that life is short.  It is not a burden.  It's a reminder to live.

Time passed quickly as I had to leave soon for the Western world again. 

As a child, I always connected to Bilbo and Frodo the most.  During one of our great hobbit meals, we recollected times past.  Some understood the adventures.  Some dreamed of those adventures. Most were glad they hadn't known the far away places I've visited.  And it reminds me that I am alone on this journey.  The greater world my own personal treasure. My quiet reflection. 

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep...that have taken hold.”

 And yet, the Shire is my home.  No matter how far I travel, there will always be that part of me inside.  


  1. I suppose if you've got to live in the cold, you need good food and a football game to pass the indoor time. *smile*

  2. Very deep thoughts here. NI think you can only back to visit. For the rest of the time you need to move on. :)

  3. What a wonderful post! I enjoyed it very much.

  4. A great post Chris! Lovely photos!

  5. Your posts are often stimulating and thought provoking but wrapped in a soothing charm!

  6. Masz dzisiaj wspomnienia o własnym domu, który opuściłeś przed laty. Ten dom zawsze będzie jednak Twoim domem, gdziekolwiek będziesz mieszkać. Pozdrawiam.
    You have now the memories of your own home, you left many years ago. This house, however, will always be your home, wherever you live. Yours.

  7. Veryinteresting post and beautiful photography

  8. OMG! You brought tears to my eyes. I get it. Completely.
    The part about Home/Wisconsin. Being different. But one thing... You are not alone. You have your own Hobbit Hole with a whole bunch of friends and loved ones around you right where you are. Joy to you Chris!

  9. It's hard to go home again because if it hasn't grown then surely you have. Yet the Shire shall always remain the same in your heart. Wonderful piece Frodo.

  10. Shared feeling...
    I like the thought that the challenge is not living life like others but succeeding into living life among others.

  11. A beautiful very moving post Chris with some stunning photos.

  12. HHHMMMmmm... not surprised a place that looks THAT good; and with THAT much food is hard to leave!! But maybe its because you've left that you still appreciate it?? But staying in the same place (physically and/or mentally) doesn't mean you stay in the same place - it's the same as moving backwards.

  13. I hope you had a good break Chris, you have super series of return images here for us today. I kind of understand how you feel about not fitting in..we moved from Scotland to Africa to England before finally arriving in Australia..feels good to be settled !

  14. Wonderful images and contemplative thoughts for this autumn day. Thanks for sharing your perspective - it was delightful.

  15. I love this post. There is not much left of my childhood anymore.

  16. Hi Chris!
    Wonderful post and photos, and I SO get what you mean.I moved away from home and have traveled a great deal which has enriched my life immeasurably. I would not be the person I am today if I had stayed in my home town. After the demise of both my parents however, other family members and friends, like so many other people I have nothing to go back for now.

    Even though changes have taken place in your home town, you are a lucky man to have the best of both worlds.

    Please forgive this rather lengthy comment,I sometimes get carried away,especially after reading posts as moving and thought provoking as this one.
    Take care.

  17. Cool and colorful autumn photos!! Specially love the 6th photo..
    such beautiful captures...

  18. Hi! I somehow ended up at your blog. It's very interesting! You take great pictures. I will have to visit it more often.

  19. Hi Chris, you words and thoughts touched my heart- twis like reading a story book.
    You have a special gift my blogger friend- so glad you shared.
    Be Happy :)

  20. I have no shire at all. Home is where ever I happen to be at the moment. It must be nice to have a place that helps you feel rooted. I created that at my current home for my kids.

  21. Hi Chris. Your words are bringing a lump to my throat again! As far as I am concerned, your writing is going from strength to strength. I love it!

    What has completely taken me by surprise is the fabulous non-bird photography. I'm sure there's some new techniques and skills at work here!

    Couldn't say goodbye without commenting on your wonderful new header - you won't be surprised to hear it's my favourite yet!

    Hasta la próxima vez, mi amigo - Richard

  22. So well written Chris, and I know how you feel! I, too escaped from NE, yet it is still inside me and part of me and will always be. and the older I get, the more I miss it!

  23. I share some of these well written sentiments, only I left my shire, then came back but not all the way. Distance can give one perspective.


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