A Delayed Departure


In my post of August 10 I announced that I was set on a pilgrimage, one which I also confidently declared would commence the following month. Such was my certainty, I was quite specific about the date:

The twenty-third of September.

If you’ve not yet read that offering, you may wish to do so before continuing with this one. Clicking on the above link will take you there directly.

In that post I also explained the significance of such a date and revealed that this particular day had triggered my departure countless times since my first such quest in 1980.

Sadly, in the surreal stage-show called ‘Twenty Twenty-One‘, events conspired against me. (As events appear to be conspiring against us all. Have no fear, however, dear reader, a happy ending is assured.)

Anyway, the launch date arrived … and it went. As did the remainder of September – and October, too. November arrived exactly on schedule, and my ‘epic trek’ had still not begun.

Since my earlier post, the maize has been harvested from the surrounding fields and their amber stalks ploughed-in. The native trees in my garden – whitebeam, rowan, birch, beech and hawthorn – turned gradually from green to gold and then to brown. And, together with the three old sycamores, dumped their spent foliage onto my lawn. Just as I said they would.

Some events at least are reassuringly predictable.

Am I disappointed? About the delay, I mean, not the leaves. Well, no, not in the least. There’s an odd sense of rightness in my tardy approach to what has previously been a regularly-observed event for much of my adulthood. You see, the individual whose own quest has led me to follow in his footsteps umpteen times had, despite all due warnings, deferred his own departure. Sure, he’d set off on the date I’ve already given … but he was far later than he ought have been.

‘You ought to go quietly and you ought to go soon.’

Such had been my predecessor’s love and contentment for his neat, comfortable home and its familiar environs that thoughts of adventure, once exciting, had become a source of sadness and regret. As Autumn neared he began to lament having to take his leave of his own beloved Shire.

To tell the truth, he was reluctant to start, now that it had come to the point. Bag End seemed a more desirable residence than it had for years, and he wanted to savour as much as he could of his last summer in the Shire.

I also explained previously how I would begin my journey; how I’d ‘set off’ in early evening and follow a well-trodden route. Well, two nights ago, and two months later than planned I did just that.

I began by perusing my collection of well-thumbed maps as I drank a good, strong mug of tea. Then, with my route etched into my memory, I joined the three companions I’d chosen for the first leg of my journey:

Frodo Baggins, Peregrin Took and Sam Gamgee.

They shouldered their packs and took up their sticks and walked round the corner to the west side of Bag End. ‘Good-bye!’ said Frodo, looking at the dark blank windows. He waved his hand, and then turned and (following Bilbo, if he had known it) hurried after Peregrin down the garden-path. They jumped over the low place in the hedge at the bottom and took to the fields, passing into the darkness like a rustle in the grasses.

I have need for haste now. This will be just-penance for such a sluggish start. For, by my reckoning, I should have been in Rivendell by now.


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