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Section XXV-Walking Trips Alone

Spring's gentle presence is slowly warming into summer's inevitable arrival. My travels are taking me a bit further afield, as the days grow longer and less chilly. I find myself exploring more and more often alone. As much as I enjoy the walking trips with Sam, Merry, Pippin, and sometimes Fatty, I am finding my solitary wandering more to my liking of late. I am at a loss to explain it, though I do realize I am very fortunate indeed. I am well aware of Sam's worrying, and I used to tease him about it. I'd remind him with a mischievous grin that I wasn't going on a real adventure, not yet anyway, well maybe not. I didn't recognize at first the uncertain look in his eyes, but I notice it now and simply reassure him that I expect a warm meal on my return. This seems to put him a bit at ease. Of course, there is also always a warm meal ready and laid out on my return. I've learned to let on to no one, including Sam, that I am aware of his concern. Too many might accuse him of getting above himself by questioning my doings, but I know asking him to pretend indifference to my activities would be much the same as requiring him to ignore his beloved garden.

My dearest friends blessedly take no offense to my lone hikes, though at present I do not believe they realize just how far afield these trips take me. Be that as it may, they don't seem to hold these ventures against me. They are unquestioning of my choices, almost unquestioning, and allow me to go my own way, as long as they are occasionally included of course.

I am a bit surprised that in truth, I miss the outings I shared with Uncle Bilbo. Such remembering leads me to wonder how the dear old hobbit is doing. Though I have heard his stories countless times, and more, and am quite able to recite them by heart myself, with all the proper pauses and just the right emphasis, I miss hearing his voice and seeing his face tell the stories. I recall too, the questions I raised, whatever their subject, were always open for discussion. He possessed a way of creating an air of welcome to any inquiry I shared without a single reprimand that I can remember. I certainly have some questions for him now. Is he all right? Is he with the Elves, safely in Rivendell? I remember Gandalf assuring me he would be staying with the Elves, which leads to another question. Where is Gandalf? I am quite certain Bilbo is fine and probably happy as any hobbit would be with a good mug of ale, plenty to eat, and a pipe filled with a bit of pipeweed, at least that is how I picture him. But as it stands, I am left to wonder, though someday, I will find out for myself but not yet.

It is during these outings when I have the occasional rare opportunity to converse with dwarves on journeys of their own and see elves passing through the Shire. It has just occurred to me that these seemingly chance meetings are only when I am out walking alone, though it was common enough when roaming with Uncle Bilbo. Of course, then, quite often the dwarves we met where on their way either to or from Bag End. I don't tell Sam about these encounters any more, I fear he would be dreadfully put out to have missed them. I find it a trifle odd that I truly have no wish to see Sam discontent. He so wants to meet an elf, truth be told he'd be delighted just to see one. Maybe someday. Until then, I'll not tease him.