Spring has been flirting with Colorado. A light snow has rested upon our daffodils and lilacs. We put our dog sled away and let the huskies run loose in the pasture. I took the chains off the lawn mower wheels, changed the oil and prepared it for Summer lawns; broke the icicles from the sprinklers. I also removed the cat’s wool hat, sweater and hiking boots and filled his dish with lemonade instead of hot coffee; birds are nesting in the branches outside the kitchen window.

Every Spring I resume my field research for my thesis on Middle Earth. There is suggestive evidence for the existence of the Shire, Rivendell, Rohan, and Gondor. Although the stories have passed into legends and cinema, I have reason to believe that Colorado, indeed the Western Slope, is Middle Earth.

Although I have always known this in my heart, I needed hard evidence to base my thesis on; scholars are so demanding. I found evidence at a local antique store, a completely intact dwarve’s battle ax. I can’t really say how old it is, or how many battles it has seen, but I know I must have it. (I am currently raising funds to pay the twenty-eight dollars.)

Not all in Middle Earth is a jolly elf dance. I have found evidence of Uruk-hai, the evil Ork soldiers of Saruman. As the story goes, Uruk-hai wear a symbol, the White Hand of Saruman. This sign has been seen in the downtown area. I have alerted both the police and animal control, neither of whom care to deal with this problem.

When I go to the field for research I always wear Tim’s pants. My friend Tim joined the Army and is stationed in Afghanistan. He is the squad machine gunner, he goes to work every day with an M249 machine gun. So, we his friends from Wednesday night Bible study, take turns wearing his pants to remember to pray for him.

Army pants have six ample pockets. Two in front, two in back and one large cargo pocket at each thigh. We call them the “Six Promises”, because each one contains a promise we made to Tim.

Front pocket/right is for a pocket knife. We promise to fight for our families and for each other, whenever necessary. Front/left is for a ring. We promise to be men who are worth being married to for a lifetime.

Back/right is for a common wallet. We keep a picture of everyone’s family, and we use to raise money for Tim’s service. We promise to provide whatever is needed, including wool socks, gun oil and Reeses Pieces. Back/left is for a key ring, one key from each of our homes is kept here. We promise to live open lives.

Cargo/right is for mementos that we have collected from our turn wearing the pants. This morning I dropped in a small fossil. There is also a beer bottle cap, clothes pin, a Starbuck’s sugar pack, a key, silver dollar and a speeding ticket. Cargo/left is for the few letters we have received form Tim. We promise to write.

When Tim gets home someday—and he will, we will all meet at Shamrock’s Pub, downtown Shire. I can’t wait to tell him about my research; I think I found an Ork’s tooth. And I can’t wait to tell him how I always look for his little boy at church every Sunday morning. I toss him in the air, tickle him and tell him how much his daddy loves him.

Last Sunday he smiled a gap-tooth smile, “The wiggly one finally came out!”. I traded him a dollar for the tooth. I placed it in an envelope and put it in cargo/right.

I promise to treasure everything.