Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Locus Focus: Middle-earth Day!

A good setting is more than just a backdrop!

This is my first time to join Enbrethiliel's  Locus Focus meme. I've enjoyed reading Locus Focus for months and feel like a slug for not participating sooner.  Actually, settings typically don't make me swoon in particular but when E announced Middle-earth Day, I knew I had to join. (E, are you surprised? Shocked?  Like Gandalf said: Expect me when you see me!)

Out of all my favorite books, Tolkien created the one bookish locale where I would dearly love to dwell: Middle-earth!  

Oh, how I wish I could pop right into one of the tales. Can't you see me as a hobbit?  I would positively make a hunky dory hobbit-- and not just because of lack of stature and a fondness for second breakfast-- but because I would be right at home in the rustically rural cozy Shire.  So bucolic!  So verdant! My garden would be out of this world!

But the Shire isn't the focus of my locus today.

Nope, it is Fangorn Forest.

Huh? What kind of bizarre segue is that, you ask? 

Well, if you think about it, what is more rustic than a forest?  And certainly verdant in a sylvan sort of way. And bucolic if you recall the tree shepherds of Fangorn Forest, the Ents. Next to the hobbits, I feel the most affinity with ents and the lost ent-wives.  So not such a stretch in my mind to yearn for both the Shire and Fangorn Forest. 

When E first announced Middle-earth day, Fangorn was the first setting to pop into my mind.  

Wandering among gigantic primeval trees.  

Clambering over gnarly roots and craggy boulders. Listening to the whispers of rustling leaves. Inhaling  earthy woodsy scents.

Seeking the sources of crystal clear streams.

Seeking out hidden waterfalls and secret meadows. And communing with Treebeard the Ent. Ah, my soul would soar...

I've always felt a connection to Fangorn Forest and imagined it so vividly that I was surprised to find that there are no major descriptions of Fangorn Forest in the book. Just little snippets here and there.  E always includes evocative descriptions from the book in her Locus Focus posts-- So what to do?

I considered switching to another beloved setting and, as I pondered, it occurred to me how many of my favorite settings provide respite from the character's harrowing adventures.  When the characters are exhausted, distressed or afraid, a haven of comfort and security is always fortuitously near at hand. 

Hobbit/Man/Elf-made havens such as: Frodo's new house at Cricket Hollow, Tom Bombadil's house, the inn at Bree, Rivendell and Lorien. 

And natural havens such as: the woods above Woodhall in the Shire where Frodo and Sam spent an evening with the High Elves or the Window of the Sunset where they spent a night of peace with Faramir on the border of Mordor. 

All Locus Focus worthy settings but my heart was set on Fangorn Forest. Then, my lightbulb moment!  Wellinghall, Treebeard's house! Merry and Pippen's haven following their escape from the Orcs. 

And here is Tolkien's description of the entrance to Wellinghall:
Suddenly before them the hobbits saw a wide opening. Two great trees stood there... like living gate-posts; but there was no gate save their crossing and interwoven branches...  Beyond them was a wide level space, as though the floor of a great hall had been cut in the side of the hill.  On either hand the walls sloped upwards, until they were fifty feet high or more, and along each wall stood an aisle of trees that also increased in height as they marched inward.

At the far end, the rock-fall was sheer, but at the bottom it had been hollowed back into a shallow bay with an arched roof... A little stream escaped from the springs above, and... fell tinkling down the sheer face of the wall, pouring in silver drops, like a fine curtain in front of the arched bay. The water was gathered again into a stone basin in the floor between the trees, and thence it spilled and flowed away beside the open path, out to rejoin the Entwash.
Sound's lovely, doesn't it. How wonderful it would be to visit Treebeard: sharing a draught, listening to the old tales and learning woodlore. And I would definitely stand under the gentle waterfall, wouldn't you?

And so my first Locus Focus draws to a close.

 Hello? Are you still here? 

Good, because I'm about to reveal a deep dark secret and wouldn't want you to miss it. Here it is: 

Anything Middle-earth transports me. I could talk about it for hours. I may even be a Tolkien geek.

Thank you, Enbrethiliel, for hosting a Locus Focus Middle-earth Day! 

And don't forget:  Havens can be found in unlikely places...

Locus Focus is a fun way to write an insightful post about a book without writing a review.  If you would like to celebrate a favorite setting, visit Enbrethiliel at Shredded Cheddar to check the specs!


  1. +JMJ+

    I love this post!!! <3

    How great is it that Fangorn has always been so vivid to you despite the lack of textual description? Don't you just love it when books germinate like that in your imagination?

    I'm more of an Elf fan than an Ent fan (as sort of revealed in my own post); and if I had picked a Middle-earth forest, it might have been Lothlorien for its Elves. But there is something wonderfully aged and dignified about the Ents and the forest they've made their home. I could always sense Tolkien's disapproval of the Ent-wives who wandered off so that they could teach men to plant in an orderly fashion, in farms and gardens. LOL!

  2. Such a great choice! I love the ents - both in the books and movies - and Fangorn is definitely in my list of top fictional places I'd love to visit!

  3. Wow you are such a Tolkien Nerd! Your excitment comes through in your description. Great Post and other then Harry Potter this is my favorite author created world.

  4. This post has pasted a huge smile on my face!

    I've always been such a huge fan of the movies, but I wasn't really moved by the books. I did love the Hobbit, though. I was 13 when I read them, and I had the attention span for a fly. It's been nearly 10 years since I put the third book down, and I've been considering re-reading the trilogy. Lately, I've come across a series of posts about the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit; I'm taking this as a kind of sign that I MUST re-read the books and SOON!

    Back in middle school and high school, I was so fond of the elves. My friends and I would always pretend we were elves (dorky, I know), and we would pass notes back and forth about our elvish lives. Back then, I would have loved Lothlorien. But, these days, I think I'd appreciate the Shire more.

  5. Beautiful, Lesa! Just what I needed.

  6. E: I'm so pleased that you like it!

    Yes, that is cool when that happpens.

    Tolkien was really clever-- he didn't spell out what it looked like but he let the characters express how Fangorn made them feel. I like that the forest is alive in a sentient sort of way.

    With your vastly superior perceptions, you would make a great elf!

    Oh yes, Lothlorien! Wouldn't it be amazing to see the Mallorn trees? I would certainly want to spend time there too.

    I crave the wild and the orderly in nature so am particularly moved by the the ent/ent-wife tale. I want to find the ent-wives!

  7. Lisa: Me too-- the movie version of Fangorn was excellent. Treebeard couldn't have been better-- loved him!

    Serendipity: Shhh! That's a secret!!

  8. Jackie: Thank you so much for commenting and smiling!! Well, I think passing elvish notes is cool but then I am a 'you know what'. ;o)

    Yes! Yes! Consider this a sign to reread the books! Reading them as an adult is a whole different experience!

    I first read the trilogy at age 14 and even though I loved it, I did skip alot. My next read was probably at age 19 or 20-- It was like a whole new book! I reread it every couple of years or so and glean something new each time.

  9. Wow! For a first Locus Focus, this one certainly blows me away! Well done!
    And the pictures here make me want to pack up all my marking and head outside...Unfortunately, it's still too chilly and damp here, but I'll just have to imagine I'm in Fangorn.
    Stop 'round my hobbit house any time, and I'll come visit you in the forest. Deal?

  10. +JMJ+

    Tolkien's sense of place is so fantastic. He understands that every square inch of land in Middle-earth is meaningful, and he writes accordingly. He is a Locus Focus dream! =D

    Thanks again for joining and making this week's Middle-earth celebration so much more of a party, Lesa!

  11. I've always been a big fan of these fantasy novels--Harry Potter, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. I only just recently had a marathon with the LOTR movies. It was sooo good, Legalus is definately my type!

  12. Hi Lisa, I haven't read The Hobbit for so long, but I love ancient forests and I truly enjoyed your photos. Did you take them, and where? Huge old trees don't grow like that in a day.

    I'll see you tomorrow for BBB, but just wanted to say hello.

    God bless,


  13. Birdie: Thanks for visiting! It's a deal! And let's call on Tom in the Old Forest!

    E: You're welcome! It was fun! And I agree about Tolkien. when I read the statement in your post that a whole year of LF could be devoted to Middle-earth, I thought: yep, I bet I could find a place in ME to fit almost any theme.

  14. Maria: Ha! They are all my type-- well, except for Gimli but he is kinda cute and endearing too.

    Kathy: Oh, I wish they were my photos! I've always wanted to visit the giant redwoods.


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