Naming Olvar Wood

The name Olvar Wood is taken from Tolkien’s The Simarillion, in which the olvar are growing things with roots in the ground and the kelvar are animals.

It was Yavanna (giver of fruits), the second greatest of the Valar (pure, god-like beings), who planted the first seeds and watched over living things. In physical form, she is described as tall and garbed in green or as a tree reaching for the heavens. Yavanna tended the gardens in Valinor, the lands of the Valar, and created the Two Trees, one silver and one gold. The light of the Two Trees waxed and waned in a twelve hour cycle.

Among the Valor, however, there was a bad egg, Melkor, who coveted the magical light of the Two Trees and poisoned them. Their last flower and fruit became the moon and the sun. Melkor would go on to become Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, summoning the balrogs and corrupting the hearts of men.

When Yavanna’s husband, Aulë the smith, first created the dwarves, Yavanna (worried about their sharp axes, and the Elves and Men that were yet to come) went to Manwë, the Lord of the Valar. “Is it not enough that Melkor should have marred so many? Shall nothing that I have devised be free from the dominion of others?”

“If thou hadst thy will what woudst though reserve?” said Manwe. “Of all thy realm what dost thou hold dearest?”

“All have their worth,” said Yavanna, “and each contributes to the worth of the others. But the kelvar can flee or defend themselves, wheras the olvar that grow cannot. And among these I hold trees dear. Long in the growing, swift shall they be in the felling, and unless they pay toll with fruit upon bough little mourned in their passing. So I see in my thought. Would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those that wrong them!”

So it was that the Shepherds of the Trees, or the Ents, were created to walk the forests and protect the olvar.

Yavanna returned to Aulë, in his smithy, probably with hands on hips and chin upraised. “Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.”

“Nonetheless they will have need of wood,” said Aule, and he went on with his smith work.”

Re-reading The Simarillion and The Lord of the Rings since we moved here, it is even more obvious how central trees are to Tolkien’s mythology; he valued them highly and, it seems, foresaw their future.

We came here to care for and protect our little patch of trees. The relative wilderness that seemed boundless when we arrived, was quickly encroached upon by clearing and developers, home-owners and builders eager for a view to the sea. Like Yavanna, we became anxious for our Olvar and kelvar, though they are not of our creation.

The opportunity to secure the property next door, putting the two pieces of land back together as it were, felt right. The dam and creeks and slopes worked together, were part of a whole, and the boundary that had lain between them strange and impractical. It was one place, the wood, and as we searched for a name, Olvar Wood stuck.

We have had regrets, since mind you; people seem to have such trouble remembering or pronouncing the name. Three years on, we still receive bills, mail and emails addressed to Mr Oliver Wood or Ms Olive Wood.

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