"Jen, just look at this. Is it another hobbit moment or what?" Sue and I contemplate the twisted and polished tree trunks overhanging the River Teign, crystal water racing over emerald moss and gray rock. All around, dappled light is sifting through the leaves which arch above our heads. It's the Shire and we are looking at the Withywindle.
Of course, I don't know that J. R. R. Tolkien actually used Dogmarsh, below Castle Drogo, as his model for the Old Forest, but he certainly could have. All day, we have been having hobbit moments. The West Ford footbridge below Hill Farm was lacy with cow parsley, reminding us of Goldberry's garden. Helmoors Down, louring above the Two Moors Way, was as grim and forbidding as the Barrow-downs. West Walton Farm, thatched and well-tended, smoke pouring out of its two chimneys, recalled Farmer Maggot's place, though we couldn't see if they were growing mushrooms. From greenways to buttercup-stewn pastures, wherever we turned our heads or came upon a break in a hedge, we found an archtypical English scene. If it wasn't Tolkein, it was Constable.
Coming home to Chagford in the summer evening, the lights in the valley below just beginning to prick the dusk, I could hear Frodo saying softly in my ear, "Shall I ever see the lights of Hobbiton again?" There's just no question. I shall.