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Section XV-End of Fall

It's been more than a week since our last venture out. When I asked Sam to go out again I was surprised when he didn't jump at the chance. His brows knit together. Then he dropped his eyes and stared down at the ground where he shuffled his feet. It was almost as though he was afraid I might reprimand him. He tripped over his words mumbling something about an apology and meaning no disrespect. It went on so long I began to fear my hair would turn grey as I stood there.

Finally, I could bear his discomfort no longer. Sam missed the twinkle in my eyes as I summoned a stern, "Out with it." He jumped ever so slightly and sputtered out that there was plenty still had to be done for the gardens here at Bag End. He'd been removing dead branches and spent shrubs. He went on that among other things he'd yet to lay down the straw that will protect the dirt paths in the garden. My eyebrows raised in surprise as I told him that I had no idea it was so much work to put the garden beds to sleep for the winter.

Then found myself trying to be serious in reassuring him that coming out with me was not a requirement and saying no was all right. He eyes flew to mine in horror as he quickly explained that he knew it was not required and that he really did want to go but the gardens could wait no longer. I could not hide the smile that came unbidden at this rush of words. I also felt my heart soften to realize how much these trips meant to him and how much they had come to mean to me. I touched my friend on the shoulder and promised there would be other trips. Sam's look of relief warmed my heart and made me want to laugh. He wasted not a moment longer but got straight back to his work. I almost felt dismissed.

In truth, the days have been growing considerably colder of late. The weather is really becoming too inclement to do much wandering. For once, I find myself grateful for the paperwork that needs doing. It keeps me indoors close to the fire. I told Sam this at tea. Sam shook his head and asserted it wasn't that cold once one got working. By his way of thinking, he was right glad to be outside working rather than worrying his head over paperwork.

As usual, I'm wistful this fall; it generally brings the end of any serious wandering for a while. Yet, at the same time, it also seems to be the time for adventures to begin, at least if you believe Uncle Bilbo's storytelling. Being stuck inside, I have time to catch up on my reading and always I am drawn to Uncle Bilbo's stories. Though all I have are notes, it takes very little to bring back the memory of his storytelling. More and more I am longing to see him again. I want to have adventures like he did, but not quite yet.