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Section XVII-Bag End

It's getting too cold to venture out much at all. Even Sam is now finding things what need doing inside. Again I wondered to myself just how much he could find to do. I had meant to ask him on our last walking trip, but we ended up walking mostly in companionable silence. What little conversation passed between us revolved around the gardens. I know that Bag End is a rather large hobbit hole by any standard, but still, how much could there be to do really? Thinking back, I am remembering that every winter he is busy in Bag End, but I don't rightly know doing what. Finally, I asked him this morning over second breakfast.

He fleetingly glanced at me and dropped his eyes. I had the distinct feeling that I should have known the answer. I know he would never dream of implying this, let alone voicing the thought; in fact, I am sure it was my thought not his. It simply occurred to me that in all this time I have never thought to find out. He actually seemed pleased that I had asked and explained that winter was the best time for checking the tree that Bag End shares the hill with, what with it being asleep for the winter and all, as Sam puts it. When Bag End was built the tree was already quite mature, but being a tree it was still a living thing. The place was carefully planned so that there was space left for it to continue growing. It seems that Sam checks where the tree roots and the walls meet to be sure neither is harming the other. This matter-of-fact revelation startled me. I have always loved and yet taken for granted the way the roots were seemingly crafted to be a part of Bag End. Now it has been drawn to my attention, I remember all the times I have stepped into Bag End from the garden and been vaguely aware that there was a feeling of completion by bringing in the living thing as a part of the actual structure. I found myself marveling that it was planned in so much detail and with so much forethought. Amazed all the more to realize that for all these years now, the Gamgee gardeners have so lovingly cared for not just the gardens outside but for Bag End itself. There is nothing here that has not felt their loving and skillful touch. For a flickering moment the thought slipped through my mind that I was included in all that.

My curiosity suddenly overwhelmed me. I wanted Sam to show me everything that he was doing. Though I had completely forgotten the bread and butter and blackberry jam in front of us, Sam had not. He flashed beseeching eyes at me and glanced quickly at his plate with the half-eaten meal. I followed his wistful gaze and laughed out loud. "All right, Sam. We will finish second breakfast, but then you will show me exactly what it is you will be doing this winter."