Over the summer, the traveling five, as on occasion I refer to us, went off on a number of trips about the Shire. Blessedly, despite Fatty's grumpiness with Sam for ruining their wake up tradition, at my expense, dear Sam has braved it and come along on most of our excursions. To ensure that their own disappointment does not go unnoticed, Merry and Pippin take no trouble at all hiding their own unhappy feelings and throw repeated mock glares Sam's way. Fortunately, Sam takes it in the same spirit intended and returns an innocent look; if he bothers to notice at all, which of course really annoys all three of them, to my secret delight, for they are not accustomed to being ignored. During the entirety of these exchanges, I carefully avoid looking directly at any of them for fear of bursting into gales of laughter, though finally, I failed miserably. My view of the absurdity seemed to put an end to it. I, on the other hand, enjoy Sam's quiet company and find his gentle care to be having a good effect on me. To the shock and horror of my cousins, I am learning to rise earlier on my own. Now they are truly disgruntled for even if Sam is not with us, I am up before them.
Today, I decided to head out on my own, quite without planning and with no particular destination in mind. Grabbed my pack, lightly filling it. I hadn't much thought for where I'd be going and no desire to be gone particularly long, which would have required more consideration and packing. Just overcome by the wishing for a different view and itching to find it.
Out of habit, I glanced back at Bag End, and caught myself struck by how intently Sam watched me. Usually he endeavors to show no sign of noticing. Oddly, it seemed almost as though we were each lost in our own reverie. I also knew precisely when he started out of his, he abruptly returned to his work blushing to his ears. Next thing I knew, I found myself calling, "Come on Sam, we'll make a day of it." His head popped up, and he almost left the hoe where he stood, but old habits are difficult to break. With a brief pause, he obviously thought better of it and carefully returned it to its proper place with the other tools. He turned a questioning look my way; I lifted my pack. He gave a quick nod hurrying to join me. As we stepped out the gate, without a word Sam relieved me of the pack, shouldered it and headed down the path.
We tramped about with hardly a word between us. Still, it is not uncomfortable. I enjoyed listening instead to the voices of the Shire, don't think I have ever really noticed before all the sounds. Finally, we stopped for a bit by a brook babbling happily on its way. The sun warmed me from the outside in. I found myself lulled by the gently gurgling water, so unlike the sound of the sea in my dreams, even the birds sound different. The vista laid out before us is truly one of the most beautiful in all the Shire, and yet, I barely see it. In its place, great mountains rise up before my eyes. Where is this place? I search my memory in vain trying to remember.
Sam gently touched my shoulder and softly whispered, "Mr. Frodo?" It reminded me of the way he wakes me in the morning. Dragging my eyes from the mountain vastness before me, though only in my mind's eye, I turned my head to focus on Sam's worried face. I felt vaguely surprised at the concern I noted there. Gave myself a little bit of a shake and smiled at him. The concern subsided as he suggested we make for Bag End as afternoon faded into evening. All the long walk home, I could not refrain from comparing the fields, woods, and rivers of my beloved Shire to the places in my dreams. A conviction grows in my heart to follow Bilbo to Rivendell, but not quite yet.