Not exactly the High Hay

The entrance into the woods in the abbey’s front yard. The deer use it as a doorway. Click here for high-resolution version.

One of the most memorable bits of landscape in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is The Hedge, or “High Hay,” that protected the Hobbits of Buckland from the scary creatures of the Old Forest. The Hedge was very dense, and to get into the forest there was a tunnel lined with brick under the hedge, blocked with iron bars.

Fifteen years ago, I made a rough trail into the woods that leads to a huge rock that overhangs a small stream — a picturesque and magical spot where a huge beech tree grows amongst the other hardwoods, with its roots near the stream and its upper branches at the top of the canopy. I planted small arbor vitae trees on either side of the opening to decorate the trailhead, though the arbor vitaes are now being overcome by woodsy things.

The woods that adjoin the abbey are very dark, dense, moist, and cool, a place where hardly a single photon of sunlight goes to waste. Where there’s light, a leaf will grow to try to catch it. I’ve learned that, left alone, the edges of a woods are a special kind of ecosystem. At the edges of a woods, light comes from the side as well as above, so growth is exuberant. There are certain species of trees that particularly like to grow at the edge of a woods, wild persimmon trees in particular … not to mention poison oak. The edge of a woods can be very dense. Birds love it there. Here at the abbey, the deer have a door into the woods in the backyard as well as the front.

3 thoughts on “Not exactly the High Hay”

  1. Hi Chenda: I’m flattered you asked, but probably not. I have three unfinished things that are my priorities at present. I seem to keep getting stuck…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *