December 1–30HomeJanuary 11–13

January 8–10, S.R. 1419 (T.A. 3019)

When The Lord of the Rings says of the Company of the Ring that ‘They had been a fortnight on the way when the weather changed’, is it counting from their evening departure from Rivendell on December 25, or their first full day of travel on December 26?

It turns out that it’s counting from December 25. They arrive in Hollin on the very next day after the ‘weather changed’—and the Tale of Years says ‘The Company reach Hollin’ on January 8. So the weather must have changed on January 7. If we remember that every Shire month has 30 days, and that the two days of Yule fall between December and January, then we will measure exactly one fortnight between December 25 and January 7:

December Yule January
25 26 27 28 29 30 01 02 01 02 03 04 05 06 07
week one week two

All of which determines the date of the New Year’s first event.

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 7 · 11:00 am

For two weeks the Company have marched south through a bitter east wind. Now the weather relents, and the wind turns to the south. The ceiling of grey clouds is replaced by a brilliant clear winter sky.

As the Company arrive in Hollin, we are offered the first direct dialog between the new traveling companions—and for the first time get to see two longtime friends, Aragorn and Gandalf, working together in view of the hobbits.

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 8 · 8:05 am

In the clear dawn, the Company reaches a ridge of holly-trees and can see the three peaks of Moria. Gandalf is pleased. ‘We have reached the borders of the country that Men call Hollin; many Elves lived here in happier days. Five-and-forty leagues as the crow flies we have come.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 8 · 9:30 am

The Company are enjoying a merry breakfast, but Aragorn is uneasy. ‘I have a sense of watchfulness, and of fear, that I have never had here before.’

Gandalf orders silence. ‘If you bring a Ranger with you, it is well to pay attention to him, especially if the Ranger is Aragorn.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 8 · 10:50 am

Aragorn joins Sam on watch while the rest of the Company sleeps. They are startled to see huge flocks of crows slowly swirling toward them from the south. Aragorn pulls Sam down. ‘Lie flat and still!’ From the vast flock they hear a single call as the birds pass overhead.

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 8 · 4:10 pm

Fearing that someone is watching Hollin—for not only crows but hawks have passed overhead today—the Company sets out at dusk for another overnight march. Aragorn leads them to a path running south toward the Redhorn Pass. The full Moon rises over the mountains on their left.

The Company never does learn at whose bidding (Saruman? Sauron? Radagast?) the birds are searching west of the Mountains, though Aragorn’s sense of foreboding suggests that they have been dispatched by an enemy rather than a friend. Nor does the Company ever account for the dark presence they feel above them the next morning in the ‘cold chill hour before the first stir of dawn’, a phrase that lets us identify the time of day with unusually happy precision.

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 9 · 6:40 am

More than an hour before dawn—when the Company will halt their overnight march, hide, and try to sleep—a shadow crosses the sky above them. Gandalf cautions that ‘It may be nothing, only a wisp of thin cloud.’

‘It was moving fast then,’ Aragorn answers, ‘and not with the wind.’

The narrative gives only a quick summary of the ‘two more nights’ that follow, January 9 and January 10.

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 9 · 4:10 pm

As the sun sets, the Company leave their hiding place and resume their climb south along the old road through Hollin towards the Redhorn Pass.

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 10 · 7:50 am

Dawn finds the Company finishing their second night’s march through Hollin. Again they hide and sleep through the day to avoid unfriendly eyes.

The Shire-Reckoning · Jan 10 · 4:25 pm

As sunset yields to the dusk of another long winter night, the Company set out on a third and final march towards the base of Caradhras. The Moon is now two days past full and is later in rising over the Misty Mountains on their left.

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