and I were talking yesterday about the angsty-ness of a certain
hobbit. And I got to thinking on how Sam was of such a
practical nature. Would he not, eventually, have become
tired of what might have seemed to him something that just should
have been "gotten over"? And I told hery I would write a
comic piece on this theme. Well, in the writing, Samwise
corrected my point of view on the matter. As always, Sam
Samwise Gamgee was a gardener, and no mistake. And it weren't just an avocation to him, no, not a mere handing-down, from son-to-son-to-son, of a dawn-to-dusk set of responsibilities.
More like a calling, it was, as much a part of him as sun-tousled hair, river-deep green-gold eyes, and square-broad fingers.
Of all the things that Sam knew, knew without a concious thought,
he knew the soil that beat like a heart beneath his bare
feet best. The smell of it, rich and dark, like the very
marrow-meat of the earth, the feel of it, heavy and
fine......even the taste of it, on the odd occassion he partook
(usually for the roses' sake) of the merest moist pinch....
Sam knew, too, how best to serve that which he cared for:
when to plant, when to prune, when and how and how much,
especially, to water....
There were even those under his care which preferred the
attentions of the moon to those of His bright counterpart.
Those, Sam knew best of all.
And of these, of one in particular, Samwise at last despaired.
For this one did not grow, or, in truth, grew no better.
Sam watched him with his careful gardener's eyes, watched
him take no part in the glad sunlight, watched him stand
silent and other-wordly in the shadows of the Hill.
A gentled light lingered about Frodo, almost as if it
were an answer to the diadems which shone above. And
as the days and months since their return passed, the light grew
ever brighter, and Frodo further and further away. It was a
rarity, now, for him to lift a pint at the Dragon, or even
distract himself with the company of the Captains.
Sam could not think when he'd last heard his master
laugh. Thank the gracious Lady, he was spared the sound
(though not the knowledge ) of Frodo's tears.
It made him angry, somehow, in his stubborn gardener's
heart. He had known, with a surety, that he had only to get
Frodo home, only had to plant him safely again in the welcome earth of the Shire, and all would be well.
It was the single instance, in a lifetime shaped by the care and
consideration of the needs of those given into his charge, that
Sam was wrong.
Wrong, when it most counted to be right.
He began to avoid Frodo. It was easy enough, really, for
Frodo himself was rarely about when Sam came up the Hill to care
for the gardens, preferring the shuttered half-dark of his
bed-chamber during the day, and working in the study until ink'd
night gave over to orange-pinked dawn. Even so, it had been
a rare day, indeed, that Sam did not look in, if only for a
moment, on the Master.
Frodo, of course, noticed. Oh, his larder was stocked,
right enough, and the fires in the smial laid and tended.
The gardens had never been so fine. Blue roses (the first
of their kind in the Four Farthings) shone like silver under the
thin disc of the moon, and the weave of the fence was
twined with forget-me-nots. But the worker of these
wonders remained hidden.
Soon, there were notes left upon the plank in the kitchen,
every-day-use parchment scribed in Frodo's precise hand. And
these directives Samwise did not ignore, only their lonely
Sam took to visiting the Dragon, himself, of an
evening. Most nights, a solitary ale and his old pipe kept
him company. And his thoughts. Always, his thoughts
of what he should have done, might have done, still might do.....
all his thoughts, mind turning like a windlass in a blind wind......
And so it was that he did not take note of the silence which
fell like a stone into the familiar brawl of the common-room (in
later years, he would recall, with a pain born of loss, that it
was a Mersday* in Halimath, and not long off of the Masters'
birthday). Silence, and a matter-of-fact falling-back of the folk
knotted about him.
Almost an Age, it seemed, since he'd heard a note
of gladness in that voice, almost a long, lost lifetime
since they'd shared something so ordinarily wonderful as the dark
bitterness of a labourer's brew.....
almost enough, the half-smile that was as good as a morning of poured-gold sunshine to Sam.
Sometimes, he thought, still sitting in silence (a good silence,
this, a silence of friends who need not say anything, for all is
spoken in and by their silence)....
sometimes, one gardens best by gardening not at all.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
A postscript from the gardenee:
Full-wise, he was, my Sam, make no mistake.
*Hobbits used the same seven-day week as the Dúnedain,
who had in turn adopted the six-day week of the Elves but
supplemented it with a day dedicated to the sea (Mersday)
A Rose for the Master