Celebrating J.R.R. Tolkien

Photo Credit: Rime Jos Dielis

Trees with Rime Jos Dielis

Today, January 3rd, Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves, Ents and Men of Middle Earth celebrate their chronicler’s birthday – J.R.R. Tolkien, if were he still among us, would be 121 years old today. Tolkien’s love of the natural world shines through his writings about Middle Earth. He insisted that Middle Earth was in fact our world. In this letter to his son Christopher from late December 1944, he describes moments of Elvish beauty in his own back garden:

“The weather has for me been one of the chief events of Christmas. It froze hard with a heavy fog, and so we have had displays of Hoarfrost such as I only remember once in Oxford before and only twice in my life. One of the most lovely events of Northern Nature. We woke (late) on St. Stephen’s Day to find all our windows opaque, painted over with frost patterns, and outside a dim silent misty world, all white but with a light jewelry of rime; every cobweb a little lace net, even the old fowls’ tent a diamond-patterned pavilion. …The rime yesterday was even thicker and more fantastic. When a gleam of sun (about 11) got through it was breathtakingly beautiful: trees like motionless fountains of white branching spray against a golden light and, high overhead, a pale translucent blue. It did not melt. About 11 p.m. the fog cleared and a high round moon lit the whole scene with a deadly white light: a vision of some other world or time. It was so still that I stood in the garden hatless and uncloaked without a shiver, though there must have been many degrees of frost.”

from Letter 94 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien


This is one of an occasional series of posts celebrating the birthday and accomplishments of environmentalists, ecologists, travelers, adventurers, thinkers, artists, writers and scientists who have inspired us to a greater appreciation of and participation in life on planet Earth. Who has inspired you? Please let us know, so we can add them to our celebration list.

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