Oct 23 2011

#176 “Ride the Wind”

From Ashlee in Nine Miles Falls, Washington

Voiceless it cries
Wingless flutters
Toothless bites
Mouthless mutters

For those of you that are somewhat Tolkien-savvy, I’m sure you recognize this riddle as being printed in a little book called The Hobbit. The answer to this puzzle, of course, is the wind.

In many ways, the wind is just as mysterious and enigmatic as the wolf itself. It is powerful yet peaceful. It has the capability to change at the drop of a hat. It can calm and soothe us or it can drive us to seek shelter from it cruel blasts. Indeed, it is truly a fickle mistress. More than this, though, it is all around us all the time. It is a part of us. Its existence is as closely tied to our lives as the air that we breathe, and in fact, it is a part of that as well.

I don’t know how the wind works, where it comes from or where it goes. And similarly, I face the same riddles when I set my mind on the beautiful and majestic wolf. All that I know is that the creature exists and is a part of this blessed Mother Earth that contains so many more mysteries than our minds are ever capable of comprehending. In the end, I suppose that I don’t need to understand the wolf in order to appreciate it, just as I don’t necessarily need to understand the wind in order to treasure a cool breeze on a warm day. Efforts of comprehension leave room for error, but love transcends misunderstandings.

The wind. A wolf. They seem like ordinary ideas on the surface, and yet Ashlee has combined them here in a triumph of art that shatters the ordinary. In honor of you, Ashlee, I have posted the video below. The song is called “Windfall,” and it is performed by the alt/country group Son Volt. If you’ll notice, the hook in the song repeats the words, “May the wind take your troubles away.”

This is the wish that I have for you, Ashlee. Thanks for the awesome picture.


May 31 2011

#31 “Wild Fantasy”

From Rudi at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri

This wolf is undeniably interesting. The unorthodox facial features, unique coloring, and the mysterious nature of the text at the bottom of the illustration all work together to create a masterpiece of wild imagination. In many ways this picture is so weird and bizarre that I didn’t think any words I could offer would complement it appropriately (I hope the artist takes no offense to this); and although it may not be entirely applicable, I have decided that such a ‘fantastical’ picture might be better served if it were paired with the work of one of the greatest ‘fantasy’ writers of all time: J.R.R. Tolkien.

And with that, I will leave you with this short section from Tolkien’s The Hobbit which picks up shortly after Bilbo, Gandalf, and the thirteen dwarves escape from goblins in the Misty Mountains.

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After what seemed ages further they came suddenly to an opening where no trees grew. The moon was up and was shining into the clearing. Somehow it struck all of them as not at all a nice place, although there was nothing wrong to see.

All of a sudden they heard a howl away down hill, a long shuddering howl. It was answered by another away to the right and a good deal nearer to them; then by another not far away to the left. It was wolves howling at the moon, wolves gathering together!

There were no wolves near Mr. Baggins’ hole at home, but he knew that noise. He had had it described to him often enough in tales. One of his elder cousins (on the Took side), who had been a great traveller used to imitate it to frighten him. To hear it out in the forest under the moon was too much for Bilbo. Even magic rings are not much use against wolves – especially the evil packs that lived under the shadow of the goblin-infested mountains, over the Edge of the Wild on the borders of the unknown. Wolves of that sort smell keener than goblins, and do not need to see you to catch you!

“What shall we do, what shall we do!” he cried. “Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!” he said, and it became a proverb, though how we say “out of the frying pan and into the fire” in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.

“Up the trees, quick!” cried Gandalf; and they ran to the trees at the edge of the glade, hunting for those that had branches fairly low…. And Bilbo? He could not get into any tree, and was scuttling from trunk to trunk…. So Dori actually climbed out of the tree and let Bilbo scramble up and stand on his back.

Just at that moment the wolves trotted howling into the clearing. All of a sudden there were hundreds of eyes looking at them. Still Dori did not let Bilbo down. He waited till he had clambered off his shoulders and into the branches, and then he jumped for the branches himself. Only just in time! A wolf snapped at his cloak as he swung up and nearly got him. In a minute there was a whole pack of them yelping all round the tree and leaping up at the trunk, with eyes blazing and tongues hanging out.