The view from along the Mt. Marathon Race Trail changes from day to day. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

The view from along the Mt. Marathon Race Trail changes from day to day. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled up in Blue: Old Tom Bombadil

I’ve been running into Tom Bombadil everywhere lately.

The bright blue-eyed, enigmatically mysterious being (man isn’t the right word, but neither is creature) of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth has been sprouting up on every corner of my mind.

I haven’t run into any merry fellows with blue jackets and boots of yellow. Although I know Seward to be an exciting place, I would be taken aback if I saw a man with a green girdle, breeches all of leather and “in his tall hat a swan-wing feather” standing outside on 4th Avenue.

There was one guy I saw on a recent run with wild hair, a bristling brown beard and a piercing stare that had me thinking, could that be him?

But Tom Bombadil is the master of wood, water and hill — not pavement and sidewalks. And when I do find myself in the woods, by the water or near the hills, I haven’t been singing his song, calling him.

“Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!

By water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow,

By fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us!

Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!”

Instead, I’ve been seeing Tom Bombadil in different ways. I am in the midst of a “Lord of the Rings” reread, so the Bombadil bombardment didn’t come from the middle of nowhere earth. It did come as a surprise, though, since this isn’t the first, or last, time I’ll be reading the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

The books are a comfort to me. I remember the first time my dad mentioned Tolkien, handing me a copy of “The Hobbit” and then the trilogy. From there I devoured each and every page, map and appendices that Middle Earth had to offer. I read and reread until I could watch and rewatch the movies. And I will proudly admit that I had a lot of “Lord of the Rings” action figures. The passion was (and still is) real.

Despite all this, though, I lamented at how boring the Tom Bombadil chapters were. What was the point? Just get to the Prancing Pony and start the adventure already. Stop singing in the woods, eating delicious food and fawning over this being who speaks in rhymes.

This time around, though? I can’t get enough Tom Bombadil.

I’m finding a different comfort in this reading. Instead of rushing to the action like I have in the past, I savored the days the hobbits spent in the wood with Tom Bombadil and his wife, Goldberry, the river daughter. The rhymes stick in my head, as I imagine them being sung in between bouts of laughter.

It’s easy to blame my change in locale for my newfound admiration of Bombadil. Living in Seward, I’m closer to the wood, water and hill than I ever have been. Walking through the trees on Mt. Marathon last week, I half expected to see a group of hairy-footed hobbits following Tom, who is bouncing down down the trail singing:

“Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!

Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!

Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bobadillo!”

Instead, I saw a changed landscape from the one I had grown accustomed to all summer long. Branches were bare and the ground crunched below me. Ice filled the streams and small flecks of snow fell onto my face while I looked down at Seward glowing in the fading light of an early dusk. It was still the trail I knew, the trail I had walked or run on dozens of times before. Things were a bit different up there and I found myself looking closer at the ice crystals in the ground, instead of the budding wildflowers on the trees.

Here’s a tired statement: things change. And here’s my addition to it: so do the comforts you take from them.

The Tom Bombadil chapters are behind me and, for the first time, I’m sad to say goodbye to the character who taught the hobbits the right road, to keep their feet from wandering. But, it’s been a few years since I’ve added a few dog-ears to my ragged copy of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” and I’m excited to see what new comforts I’ll find along the trilogy’s trail.


By KAT SORENSEN, Peninsula Clarion


More in Sports

Kenai Central’s Kylee Verkuilen races Nikiski for control of the ball during a soccer game at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai sweeps, shuts out Nikiski in Friday soccer games

Kenai girls and boys teams opened with early goals

Head coach Taylor Shaw (center) talks to the Kenai River Brown Bears during a timeout at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, March 23, 2024. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Season review: Brown Bears hope to build on solid finish to season

It’s not easy to finish a season in last place in a division, yet have plenty of reasons for optimism for the next season

tease
Homer snow shuffles sports schedule

The Mariners were supposed to host Kenai Central in Thursday

A pair of Trumpeter Swans break through the thin ice in search of emergent vegetation at the Kenai River Flats with Mt. Redoubt in the background. (Photo courtesy T. Eskelin/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Has spring sprung?

I have always found the arrival of spring to be championed by the first sightings of geese at the Kenai and Kasilof Flats

tease
Peninsula Piranhas win South Central Area Championships

The Peninsula Piranhas won the South Central Area Championships in Homer on… Continue reading

Lily Langham of Kenai Central High School and Brooklyn Larsen, Rylie Thompson and Ava Fabian of Soldotna High School, stand for a photo with their medals after competing in the USA Hockey National Championships as part of the Alaska All Stars 19U Division 2A hockey team. (photo provided)
Local skaters help Alaska All Stars to semis of national tourney

Four central Kenai Peninsula skaters were on the Alaska All Stars 19U… Continue reading

tease
SoHi girls win distance medley relay at Big C Relays

A number of Kenai Peninsula athletes nabbed top-eight finishes at the Russ… Continue reading

tease
Saturday: Brown Bears finish season with comeback victory in Fairbanks

The Kenai River Brown Bears finished their season with a 4-3 victory… Continue reading

tease
Friday: Ice Dogs hold off Brown Bears

The Kenai River Brown Bears dropped a 2-1 decision to the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Blackwater Railroad Company and Silas Jones (front left) play at the 30th annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament on Saturday, March 23, 2024 at the Deep Water Dock on the Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Delcenia Cosman/Homer News)
Out of the Office: Good gathering, good vibes

It’s been a while since I’ve attended a good-old-fashioned social event —… Continue reading

Hunter Beck, Dan Beck, Emma Beck and Tracie Beck sit at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, as Emma signs a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Hunter is Emma's brother, Dan is Emma's father and Tracie is Emma's mother and the head volleyball coach. (Photo provided)
Beck signs to play with UAA volleyball

Kenai Central senior Emma Beck signed a National Letter of Intent to… Continue reading

Jim Beeson coaches Kenai Central football on August 11, 1999. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Beeson, Romans part of Alaska High School Hall of Fame 2024 class

Legendary Kenai Peninsula coaches Jim Beeson and Ward Romans were named to… Continue reading