“I hate winter!” Eldarion said glumly. He gazed out of the window of Faramir’s home in Ithilien at the pouring rain.” You promised to take me riding and now we can’t go!”
Aragorn affectionately ruffled his young son’s hair sympathetically. ”I hated being cooped up indoors just as much as you do when I was your age, “ he said. We shall ride tomorrow if the ground is fit for the horses underfoot. I will tell you a story instead.”
The little boy was soon curled on his father’s lap contentedly listening to his father’s account of how the future king once hid all morning under his bed to avoid a history lesson with Erestor.
The next day the rain had stopped suffiently for the King and Steward to ride out together with Eldarion on his pony.
They passed through bare woods where few birds sang.
“Where are we going, ada?” Eldarion enquired impatiently.
“To visit Legolas and his Elven friends,” the King explained.
Soon afterwards Legolas appeared from amongst the trees. The Elf proudly showed them the new homes the Elves had built and the wooded gardens. Aragorn and Faramir enthused at what they saw, but Eldarion remained silent.
“What do you, think of our Elven gardens, young one?” asked Legolas.
“They are very nice,” the boy replied politely.
“You sound less than enthusiastic,” said Faramir.
“Everything is so dull in winter!” Eldarion burst out. “ The sky is grey. The trees have no leaves. You cannot even play hide and seek properly! There are no flowers either that I can gather for naneth.”
Legolas laughed. ”You should look more carefully, young one. Have you not seen the fair shapes of the trees and the bird’s nests that are hidden by the leaves in summer?”
“Yes, but ada says I must not touch nests,” Eldarion replied.
“That is only when the birds are at home in spring and summer,” said Aragorn. ”Now, their homes are empty and you may look.”
Legolas nimbly climbed up a tree and returned with a bird’s nest, which he showed the boy. Eldarion studied the densely woven twigs in amazement.
“There is more to see ion nîn,” said Aragorn.” Can you see those specks of green peeping out of the earth? In a few weeks time they will be bluebells, which we could gather for naneth.”
Faramir then pointed to the tightly curled buds on a linden tree. “These leaves are still sleeping,” he explained.”Soon though they will burst forth all fresh and new and then you can play hide and seek again.”
“So you see, Eldarion,” added the King. “Although winter seems dull and gloomy it is full of the promise of all the lovely things we shall enjoy in spring. If we had sunshine and trees and flowers in full bloom all the time, we would grow too accustomed to them and fail to appreciate the marvels of Yavanna’s gifts to us. Nature needs to sleep just like we do, but the promise is always there that when she wakes up again, she will be lovelier than ever.”
Eldarion rode home thoughtfully beside his father and the Steward.