I’m just re-reading the Lord of the Rings and have enjoyed the first few chapters. I’d forgotten the bit where (spoiler alert) Frodo and his friends travel through the Old Forest on the borders of the Shire. They are pulled off course by the lie of the land and end up on the banks of the Wythewindle stream. They feel increasingly sleepy and three of them rest next to an old willow tree. This is Old Man Willow, master tree of the forest. It traps two of them inside its trunk and Frodo under a tree root forcing him face down into the river. It is only because Sam Gamgee his faithful friend and servant runs off calling for help that Tom Bombadil, an ancient guardian of the forest, finds them as he arrives rhyming and singing, and rescues them. He is a powerful figure in this part of the book, (Book 1), before the Hobbits get into the more dark and complex parts of the story. Later in the same section he saves them again from further frightening events.
In the films of the book this section of the story was left out. Its a shame in a way, it may have been removed to shorten the story, but it makes the book feel like it is for a slightly younger audience, that feeling of innocent adventure that reminds you of the Narnia stories or Swallows and Amazons. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books.