By Howard Shirley, Teen Library Assistant
“Then what is Durin’s Day?” asked Elrond.“
The first day of the dwarves’ New Year,” said Thorin, “is as all should know the first day of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter. We still call it Durin’s Day when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together. But this will not help us much, I fear, for it passes our skill in these days to guess when such a time will come again.”
The Hobbit, ‘A Short Rest’
Fortunately, while it may pass the skill of Thorin and Co. (who clearly spent more time looking for gold underground than looking up at the heavens), it does not pass our skill to discover the date of Durin’s Day. All one needs is a copy of The Hobbit, a good lunar calendar, and an understanding of what is meant by the terms “Autumn” and “Winter” in the mind of an expert on Medieval English Literature, which Tolkien himself was.
Lunar calendars are easy. Most calendars today already depict the moon’s phases, and if not, the Internet provides easy access to lunar information for any region and day on Earth. At this point, we need only consult The Hobbit to see what characteristics of the lunar cycle are associated with Durin’s Day.
From Thorin’s conversation with Elrond we see that “Durin’s Day” assumes that the moon and sun are visible at the same time in the sky. Such an event is not unusual; indeed throughout the year both the sun and the moon will be visible in the sky together, sometimes at dawn, sometimes throughout the morning or the afternoon, and sometimes at sunset. But which of these moments is meant by Thorin’s description? And since this happens many times in the traditional “Autumn” months of September, October and November, which month is meant and which phase is being described? If we go merely by Thorin’s description, Durin’s Day could cover many days in the year, and potential several days in a row! Yet clearly in the story Durin’s Day is indeed a specific day that happens only once a year (and if you read the story, that fact is crucial to the plot). So any given day when the moon and the sun are seen together is not necessarily Durin’s Day, even if it’s Autumn and even if it’s about to become Winter.
Which Moon Is It?
The first thing to determine is which phase of the moon applies. As it circles the Earth, the moon undergoes different phases depending on the amount of sunlight or Earth-shadow which strikes the moon’s surface. Although the progression is gradual, these are typically referred to as a New Moon (when the moon is on the sunlit side of the Earth and cannot be seen either during the day or at night), a waxing crescent (when the moon is only visible as a crescent shape; waxing means that shape is becoming more lit), a half-moon (equal parts light and shadow, appearing as a semi-circle), a waxing gibbous moon (meaning more than half is lit, sort of like a squished circle), and a Full Moon (all sunlight and no shadow). From this point the lit portion of the moon grows smaller, or “wanes,” giving a waning gibbous moon, a half-moon, a waning crescent moon, and finally back to New Moon again. In this context, “the last moon of Autumn” is not the last night that a moon can be seen before it “disappears” as a New Moon, but rather the entire cycle from New Moon to New Moon. This is important to consider, as this means that Durin’s Day comes as the moon’s cycle overlaps the “threshold of Winter” (the meaning of which we will examine later). Whichever full cycle of moon is in the sky on the last day of Autumn and the first day of Winter before becoming a New Moon again is therefore the “last moon of Autumn.” So the relevant moment of Durin’s Day therefore is when that moon first appears after the New Moon, not when it disappears for the New Moon. (Why isn’t Durin’s Day the date of the phase called the New Moon? Because the moon has to be visible in the sky with the sun in order to be Durin’s Day. The New Moon phase is never visible, so Durin’s Day is never the exact date of the New Moon.)
This is further echoed by The Hobbit when Durin’s Day arrives in the book:
If he lifted his head he could see a glimpse of the distant forest. As the sun turned west there was a gleam of yellow upon its far roof, as if the light caught the last pale leaves. Soon he saw the orange ball of the sun sinking towards the level of his eyes. He went to the opening and there pale and faint was a thin new moon above the rim of Earth.
The Hobbit, ‘On the Doorstep.’
Later in that same scene the book reads:
The gleam went out, the sun sank, the moon was gone, and evening sprang into the sky.
Thus, moonset and sunset occur together in this passage. What we are left with is a visible “new moon—“ obviously the silver sliver of a waxing crescent, not the invisible New Moon—which sets either just before or just after the sun.
Visibility is a debatable issue here, but in general anywhere from 24 to 36 hours after the New Moon the fresh crescent phase will reveal a visible arc. You and I might strain to see this in our overly-lit cities, but in Bilbo’s time and place—sitting on the slopes of the Lonely Mountain, far from any city lights or even the sight of Laketown, that fingernail of moon would be clear to the keen-eyed hobbit.
So, for the moon in question we have the first visible crescent after a New Moon, for the cycle that overlaps with the “threshold of Winter” as the beginning of Durin’s Day. But we’re not done yet…
When’s the Threshold?
This is the single largest point of confusion about dating Durin’s Day. What did Tolkien mean by “Autumn on the threshold of Winter?” Various arguments have been put forth for this. Some go with the date of Winter being the Winter Solstice, placing the “last moon of Autumn” as being the moon cycle that precedes the moon cycle that coincides with the Winter Solstice (usually around December 21st; the date varies each year). Such arguments place Durin’s Day as occurring in the last weeks of November or the first weeks of December.
However, this idea is based on assuming that the Winter Solstice marks the start of Winter. It does not. Rather the Winter Solstice is actually the mid-point of Winter. This may seem odd when you think about things like freezing temperatures and snow, which in the Northern Hemisphere range typically from December through February. But those are merely the climatic effects of the season, not the markers of the season itself. The day of the Winter Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year. While the effects of winter are just building up steam, as it were, the Earth and Sun are actually progressing back towards Spring!
The text of The Hobbit goes further to suggest that a late November or early December date for Durin’s Day simply doesn’t fit. The “doorstep” of the Lonely Mountain is described as being a hidden, pleasant area adorned with a carpet of grass, and the valley below it as having grass “for the ponies to eat” (The Hobbit, ‘On the Doorstep’). Obviously, this implies living, green grass, as can still be found in middle and late fall, not the dead brown grass of early winter, which would not be refreshing to either ponies, dwarves, or a lone hobbit. Keep in mind, too, that The Hobbit is set in an environment analogous to early 20th century rural Europe, the climate Tolkien was familiar with, where late November and early December are marked by mostly barren and dead vegetation, if not snow-covered ground. Since Tolkien himself drew the mountain as having a snowy peak, presumably year-round, this implies that the lower slopes of the mountain themselves have a significant elevation, and thus would be subject to colder temperatures fairly early in winter. Yes, that’s a supposition, but the likelihood of green grass thriving on a mountain slope in December or even November remains on the thin side. But note also that Bilbo can still see the pale leaves of Mirkwood, even from the heights of the Mountain. Given the distance from forest to mountain, it’s unlikely even a sharp-sighted hobbit could discern leaves on mostly barren trees, as would mark late November. So these natural details imply a climatic season more in line with October or very early November than the onset of climatic winter in December.
So what then determines the “Threshold of Winter” for the dwarves? A clue can be taken from the very nature of Durin’s Day. The key elements of Durin’s Day are not the progress of climate or the changes of the seasonal cycle—neither of which the dwarves would much note, living their lives largely underground—nor even the progression of the stars (as would fascinate the elves), but rather the position of the sun and moon, the sole sources of natural light that would enter the dwarves’ underground halls.
If the progression of the sun and moon are then the method for determining Durin’s Day and the Dwarven New Year, then the progression of sun and moon are probably the determining factor in their dating of the seasons. We can see this significance in the earlier passage where Durin’s Day is first mentioned—when Elrond spies the magical “moon-letters” on Thror’s Map in Rivendell, and notes:
“They can only be seen when the moon shines behind them, and what is more, with the more cunning sort it must be a moon of the same shape and season as the day when they were written… These must have been written on a midsummer’s eve in a crescent moon, a long while ago.”
The Hobbit, ‘A Short Rest’
Clearly for the dwarves, the position of the moon is significant in everything to do with their calendar.
So what does this mean for Durin’s Day and the “threshold of Winter?” It means that the threshold of Winter is based on the position of sun and moon, not on weather. You or I might call it “Autumn” when the first chill hits the air, and we begin to notice the color of the fall leaves begin to rise amid the green. But not a dwarf. A dwarf calls it “Autumn” when the sun and moon say it is Autumn, and Winter when they say it is Winter. We must then go back to look at events like the Summer and Winter Solstices as our marking points. Using these as our guideposts, knowing that the dwarves would define these events as the midpoint of Summer and Winter, we see that the other seasons would be similarly defined. So, are there any solar and lunar events that mark Spring and Autumn? Yes—the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes.
The Equinoxes mark the days of the year in which day and night are exactly the same length—clearly an event of significance to dwarves when it comes to the light entering their caverns! The Autumnal Equinox occurs in mid-September, usually around Sept. 21st. Like the Winter Solstice, it marks not the beginning of Autumn, but rather the mid-point of it.
So, to the dwarves, if the Autumnal Equinox is the mid-point of Autumn, and the Winter Solstice is the mid-point of Winter, what then is the “threshold of Winter?” Why, it is naturally the point when the sun is mid-way between Autumn and Winter, occurring sometime in late October or early November. In fact, we celebrate this very point in time today—Halloween. In the original pagan cultures of Celtic and Germanic Europe, the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice marked the time when Winter rose to claim control over the world. It was also a time when the Underworld supposedly opened—an idea whose echoes we see when the last light of Durin’s Day reveals the secret passage into the depths of the Lonely Mountain! (Tolkien, who held the Chair of Medieval Literature at Oxford, knew his mythology.) So is Halloween Durin’s Day?
No. Because while Halloween might be “the threshold of Winter,” it is not necessarily the date when “the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together.” But it is the moon cycle that overlaps Halloween which points us to Durin’s Day. One therefore need only determine what cycle of the moon coincides with Halloween, and then look for the day on which that cycle is first visible in the evening sky—the first night of the new crescent moon, shining alongside the setting sun. This day is Durin’s Day.
And what does that mean for us? Well, according to The Farmer’s Almanac, in 2014, the first visible crescent moon* after the New Moon, with a cycle that overlaps Halloween (“the threshold of Winter,”) is listed by the U.S. Naval Observatory as occurring on October 25, with a moonrise time of 7:39 AM, CDST**, and a moonset time of 6:25 PM, CDST. Sunset occurs at 5:01 PM, CDST. Thus, our Durin’s Day this year is Saturday, October 25th.
So, on that evening, go out and look westward for the thin moon in the early evening sky. And as the sun sets, have your key ready– for a thrush may knock nearby, and the last light of Durin’s Day might reveal a passageway to dwarven gold.
*Although the New Moon is on October 23rd, the following evening of the 24th only 1% of the surface is technically illuminated, which is invisible to the naked eye—even a hobbit’s. On October 25th, the illumination rises to 4%, which is readily visible as a thin crescent, low in the western sky. Moon phase visibility data from Stardate.Org
Moonrise, moonset, sunrise and sunset data from the United States Naval Observatory. You can look up this information for any year using their online table creator.
** Central Daylight Saving Time
All text and illustration references: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by. J.R.R. Tolkien, 70th Anniversary Edition with illustrations by J.R.R. Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2007, Copyright 1995 by The J.R.R. Tolkien Trust Company.
By Sharon Reily, Reference Librarian
It’s on the news every night and plastered all over the internet. We can’t turn on the TV without hearing about the thousands of people who have died of the Ebola virus in Africa, the man who died of the virus in Dallas, or the two nurses who became infected while treating him. After being bombarded with news about the Ebola virus, it’s easy to become anxious about how it might affect our lives. Making matters worse, the market is full of self-published books and articles about the virus that play on our fears, but offer little reliable information.
How afraid do we really need to be of the Ebola virus? Before you rush out to buy a Hazmat suit, find out the facts. There’s plenty of good information out there. Here are links to a few helpful resources:
- MedLine Plus is the National Institutes of Health’s website with articles produced by the National Library of Medicine. It offers numerous articles on the Ebola virus, and has several articles written for children, with additional information for parents and teachers. There is also a Spanish-language version of MedLine Plus.
- Health and Wellness Resource Center — This database offers access to carefully compiled and trusted medical reference materials, including nearly 400 health/medical journals, hundreds of pamphlets, health-related videos and articles from 2,200 general interest publications.
- World Health Organization — The WHO has a helpful fact sheet on the Ebola virus.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a list of information resources related to the outbreak.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website includes the organization’s latest efforts to prevent the spread of the virus in the United States:.
- For more local information, check out the Tennessee Department of Health website. The information on the site is also available in Spanish.
Here are some basic facts about the Ebola Virus that you should be aware of:
- Flu is a bigger threat — Yes, there are vaccines and medicines for the flu, and there aren’t for Ebola. But Ebola is much rarer and harder to catch. Your chances of getting Ebola are almost zero unless you’ve traveled to a place where there’s an outbreak or you’ve been directly exposed to the bodily fluids of someone who has symptoms.
- As with any illness or disease, it is always possible that a person who has been exposed to Ebola virus may choose to travel. If the individual has not developed symptoms they cannot transmit EVD to those around them. If the individual does have symptoms, they should seek immediate medical attention at the first sign they are feeling unwell. This may require either notifying the flight crew or ship crew or, upon arrival at a destination, seeking immediate medical attention. Travellers who show initial symptoms of EVD should be isolated to prevent further transmission. Although the risk to fellow travellers in such a situation is very low, contact tracing is recommended under these circumstances. While travellers should always be vigilant with regard to their health and those around them, the risk of infection for travellers is very low since person-to-person transmission results from direct contact with the body fluids or secretions of an infected patient.
- The virus doesn’t spread through air or by water. You can’t get it just by breathing the same air. The Ebola virus can only be passed through bodily fluids. To infect you, the virus has to go into your body, such as an infected person sneezing in your face. The most infectious are blood, stool, and vomit. Bodily fluids also include breast milk, urine, semen, tears, and saliva. You can also get it from contaminated needles, sheets, soiled clothing, and other objects that have come into contact with infected bodily fluids.
- People with Ebola can’t pass it along until they start to feel sick. It can take 2 to 21 days for symptoms to appear, but it usually happens in just over a week. The first signs — fever, muscle ache, headache, and a sore throat — can look like malaria, typhoid fever, and even the flu. Later symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding inside the body and from the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth.
- Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. The main debilitation of this virus is dehydration, and patients will be given oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids. There is currently no specific treatment to cure the disease. Some patients will recover with the appropriate medical care.
- People are infectious only as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. For this reason, infected patients receive close monitoring from medical professionals and receive laboratory tests to ensure the virus is no longer circulating in their systems before they return home. When the medical professionals determine it is okay for the patient to return home, they are no longer infectious and cannot infect anyone else in their communities. Men who have recovered from the illness can still spread the virus to their partner through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery. For this reason, it is important for men to avoid sexual intercourse for at least 7 weeks after recovery or to wear condoms if having sexual intercourse during 7 weeks after recovery. Likewise, women should not breast-feed during that time, in case it’s in their breast milk.
- To help control further spread of the virus, people that are suspected or confirmed to have the disease should be isolated from other patients and treated by health workers using strict infection control precautions.
Join Us for the ZOMBIE RUN
The Zombie Run, sponsored by Friends of Bethesda Library, will begin at 8 am on Saturday, October 25. It’s a 5K run/walk that begins in front of the Bethesda library!
No preregistration required.
The fee will be $10 for individuals and $15 for families.
All proceeds will benefit Bethesda Public Library.
By the Library Reference Assistant
- WHO WERE YOU AS A HUMAN? WHEN DID YOU LIVE?
- OR DID YOU CLAW YOUR WAY OUT OF A GRAVE?
- ARE YOU FRESHLY TURNED, WEEKS UNDEAD
- WAS IT A CURSE?
- DID YOU CATCH A RAGE VIRUS?
- WERE YOU BITTEN?
- LIQUID LATEX
- TOILET PAPER
- WHITE CREAM FACE PAINT
- FLESH-COLORED CREAM FACE PAINT
- AN ARRAY OF CREAM FACE PAINT IN WOUND COLORS (BLUE, PURPLE, RED, BLACK, YELLOW, ETC.)
- PAINTBRUSHES, COTTON BALLS AND/OR COTTON SWABS
- FAKE BLOOD
- MILK CARTON (OPTIONAL)
- APPLY LIQUID LATEX AND RAGGED TOILET PAPER FOR DEEP GASHES. RIP OPEN ONCE DRY.
- FOR SHALLOW CUTS, APPLY THIN LAYERS OF LIQUID LATEX, ALLOW TO DRY AND TEAR OPEN.
- BLEND WHITE OVER WHOLE FACE.
- FILL WOUNDS WITH RED AND BLACK. BLEND OUTWARD WITH BLUE, PURPLE AND DASHES OF YELLOW FOR A ROTTING EFFECT.
- BE SURE TO APPLY DARK COLOR UNDER YOUR EYES FOR A SUNKEN LOOK.
- APPLY FAKE BLOOD TO WOUNDS AND MOUTH.
- FOR ADDED EFFECT, USE MILK CARTON CUTOUTS AND LATEX TO SIMULATE BONE.
- Photo Tutorial
- Basic Video Tutorial
- Video Playlist of Effects
- Zombie Book List
Williamson County Health Department & UT Extension Offering Free Take Charge of Your Diabetes Program Workshops
For more information, or to sign up for the program, please contact Patsy Watkins, FCS Agent at 790-5721, or email@example.com.
Diabetes is a complicated disease that can strike fear, confusion, and helplessness in diagnosed people and caregivers. People with diabetes must deal not only with their disease, but also with the impact this has on their lives and emotions. A self-management approach to diabetes education gives people the knowledge, tools and confidence to take day-by-day responsibility of their diabetes care.
On October 21, 2014 the Williamson County Health Department and University of Tennessee Extension will be offering a free Take Charge of Your Diabetes Program workshop. The 6-week program is designed for people with diabetes and caregivers to learn basic skills necessary to self-manage their diabetes and work effectively with their health care professionals. The Take Charge of Your Diabetes Program is conducted by two leaders certified by Stanford University Diabetes Self-Management Program Master Trainers. Classes will be held every Tuesday from 1-3 p.m. at the Williamson County Public Library. This is a free class.
All sessions are held from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Williamson County Public Library 1314 Columbia Ave. Franklin, TN 37064
Session 1: Tuesday, October 21st
• Introduction – Identifying Common Problems
• Workshop Overview and Responsibilities
• What is Diabetes?
• Introduction to Healthy Eating
• Introduction to Action Plans
Session 2: Tuesday, October 28th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Formula for a Healthy Eating Plan
• Preventing a Low Blood Sugar: Hypoglycemia
• Making an Action Plan
Session 3: Tuesday, November 4th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Preventing or Delaying Complications
• Planning Low Fat Meals
• Introduction to Physical Activity and Exercise
• Dealing with Stress
• Muscle Relaxation
• Making an Action Plan
Session 4: Tuesday, November 11th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Dealing with Difficult Emotions
• Reading Nutrition Labels
• Endurance Activities
• Guided Imagery
• Making an Action Plan
Session 5: Tuesday, November 18th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Depression Management
• Positive Thinking
• Communication Skills
• Medication Usage
• Making an Action Plan
Session 6: Tuesday, November 25th
• Feedback/Problem-Solving Session
• Strategies for Sick Days
• Foot Care
• Working With Your Health Care Professional and the Health Care System
• Looking Back and Planning for the Future
The War that Killed Achilles: the true story of Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War By Caroline Alexander.
Ms. Alexander, the author of The Bounty; the true story of the mutiny on the Bounty and The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, has written another riveting account of an historical event, even though the Trojan War is often thought to be mythical. Alexander reveals the story part by part, giving historical background and quoting the epic in large chunks. She explains where Achilles came from, why he is the main character, and why after two millennia we still read and remember this epic poem. I would recommend this for those interested in ancient history, and even for those who are just trying to write a paper on the Trojan War. It kept my attention, and I even looked up some of the footnotes. It turns out there is evidence that Aeneas really did go to the Italian peninsula from Troy.
Fans of Elizabeth Moon’s books featuring the heroine Paksenarrion will rejoice, as I did, when I heard that the author will be continuing the story of Paks in another trilogy. The first trilogy tells the story of Paksenarrion, a girl who doesn’t want to be a shepherd, so she runs away to become a soldier. She joins a tightly run mercenary troop, learns how to fight, becomes an outstanding soldier, works her way up the ranks while the troop fights Orcs, magic and evil, is knighted and is called to be a paladin.
When the first volume came out, some reviewers said Moon was following in Tolkien’s footsteps. While it is true there are Orcs, Elves and Dwarves, these tale are usually about the world of men. Moon is a former Marine, and her experiences certainly help make the novels more realistic, in a fantasy milieu. The first trilogy is comprised of Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold. The first book in this new series is Oath of Fealty. I recommend these titles if you like high fantasy, with a developed world, full of battles, magic, gods and kings.
by Dorris Douglass, Special Collections Librarian
When the Genealogy Department (Now Special Collections and Local History) was established at the Williamson County Library in 1993, the head of the department envisioned among its holdings a cookbook collection that would preserve women’s names for posterity, which are so hard for genealogy seekers to find in the old records. Ahead of her time, genealogy and local history librarians over the country are now promoting cookbook collections on their web sites, not just for containing women’s names but for representing the heritage of communities, ethnic groups, and individual families. For example, the Minnesota Historical Society Library in St. Paul Minnesota has an excellent web page identifying cookbooks by the type of organizations publishing them. The categories given are Business, Church, Community, Ethnic, Family, and Fundraising/Charitable. The Genealogical and Local History Library of the Hayner Public Library District, Alton, Illinois has a year long display of some of their cookbooks (April 2014-April 2015) pictured and discussed on the web. The latest craze posted on various genealogy web sites is “How To” create family a cookbook, seeking recipes and family stories from older members of one’s family (http://genealogy.about.com; www.genealogyspot.com; www.familytreemagazine.com (Family Tree Magazine Oct 27, 2011). And our Special Collections Departments has many cookbooks falling into the different categories representing the social history of Williamson County and Tennessee.
- (1) Business:
- We’re Cooking, the City of Franklin Employees’ Cookbook, 1998 (including men)
- The Art of Cooking in Franklin by Franklin Business & Professional Women’s Club 1971.
- (2) Church:
- Several 1970’-1990’s, representing Brentwood, Grassland, Triune, Peytonsville, Franklin
- (3) Community:
- Stick a Fork In It by Leipers Fork, 2010;
- South Harpeth Cookbook, no date.
- (4) Ethnic:
- The Heart of the Taste (African American) 2004
- (5) Family;
- Henrietta Bates Family and Friends Cookbook 2007;
- Cucina Mia Present/ Mahowdoya?, 2000,recipies of the DiVito family of Franklin (Italian) ;
- Reid Family Recipes, Allsboro, Alabama, 2009, but with Franklin ties.
- (6) Fundraising:
- A Medley of Grand Ole Recipes by the Brentwood High School Band 1992;
- Several by local elementary schools giving the name of the parents, child and grade the child is in;
- 25th Anniversary Republican Women of Williamson County
The Special Collections Department is currently compiling a data base of the individuals named in our cookbook collection, many of whom, from the earlier books, are now deceased.