SAM'S GARDEN

Love expressed through the creation and nurturing of a garden.

Warm sunlight filtered through the treetops, casting dappled shadows over the garden, the early morning dew long banished by the warmth of the sun.The gardener, a small, woolly-footed Hobbit surveyed his handiwork with joyful satisfaction; half a lifetime invested in creating a place of beauty and tranquillity, a celebration of life and plenty and of the bounty of nature. A labour of love to honour a lifelong friend

He set off on a final tour of inspection, eager to see that all was ready and that nothing threatened to mar the perfection of his endeavours. He followed the smooth cinder path, his way marked by an edging of round smooth pebbles; each one selected for its shape and symmetry, each placed with exacting precision to achieve a pleasing and eye-catching display, each polished to reveal its innate beauty. The path led him to the kitchen garden. Vegetables and fruit, herbs and spices planted with precision, nurtured with loving hands, tended with the care of a loving heart. Bright marigolds and fragrant lavender inter-planted with produce, vines clambering over canes and trellises, ripe fruit dripping from laden boughs.

Following the path onwards he walked towards a leafy woodland glade, tended with a light hand to enhance its natural beauty. He stooped and plucked a handful of wild mushrooms that peeped through the soft, damp leaf-litter, snacking on them as he continued his tour.

He passed through a wicker gate into the flower garden. A wild riot of colour and scent to delight the eye and tantalise the senses. Flowerbeds edged with lumps of quartz rock, crystals sparkling in the afternoon sunlight. The gardener, creator of this haven took a seat on a wooden bench and pulled a pipe from his pocket and settled back to allow the tranquillity of the moment to seep into his soul and soothe the frisson of anticipation that caused his heart to flutter.

He had learned his skills at the elbow of a master gardener, skills picked up by example and observation, and more recently by trial and error. And there had been failures and disappointments, but even these had been stepping stones to greater understanding and innovation, no experience wasted where knowledge and hard work could turn them to greater glories.

The seasons had passed, flowing into each other in a ceaseless round, each marked by its own highlights; the first tentative snowdrops of the spring, summer's blazing show of blossom-decked boughs and burgeoning blooms, autumn's bountiful harvest, and winter's stark frost-rimmed outlines, cold earth sheltering the promise of renewal.

The passage of seasons had left its mark on the Hobbit, sun and wind had bronzed his skin, toil had hardened and defined his muscles and marked his palms with calluses, the proud badges of labour. His back and joints now stiff and swollen with age and long use. But the years had brought contentment and an acceptance of a past shadowed by grief. Friendship and companionship offered by neighbours and companions who recognised his worth and his contribution to past victories.

Instinct told him that the time had come.

With a last contented sigh he got to his feet and on impulse plucked a single red rose bud and tucked it into his buttonhole. He latched the gate and followed the path away from the garden, down through the trees and along the well-trodden pathway. He joined his friends, stood beside them, waiting with pulse racing and heart full to bursting.

Frodo watched as the grey sails billowed against the backdrop of the setting sun, getting closer with each passing moment. Elven voices raised in song to welcome the last sailing from the Grey Havens.

His waiting at an end, his gift completed.

His Sam. Brother of his heart.

The last ring-bearer on his last adventure, here now to share the healing peace of this Elven sanctuary. To share his life and his home, his friendship and his tomorrows. To share the beauty and the joy, surrounded by his gift.

Sam's garden.