We're experiencing Tolkien Fever at my house
as we await the release of The Hobbit this December.
The decomposing tree trunk above should have reminded me of those poor uprooted trees used to fuel the fires that made Saruman's weapons in Lord of the Rings.
Instead, its dark, craggy shape brought to mind Mount Doom.
Here in the woods I found the Ents Tolkien imagined.
Tall ancient-looking trees, alive and ready
to protect Middle-earth.
"A large Man-like, almost Troll-like figure,
at least fourteen foot high, very sturdy,
with a tall head and hardly any neck.
Whether it was clad in stuff like green and grey bark,
or whether that was its hide, was difficult to say.
At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, were not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin.
The large feet had seven toes each.
The lower part of the long face was covered with a sweeping grey beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends.
But at the moment the hobbits noticed little but the eyes.
These deep eyes were now surveying them,
slow and solemn, but very penetrating."
From: Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers