Ringer Spy Turimel reports from Beaverton, Oregon where BitofEarth.net‘s Project Elanor has just wound up. For those of you not in the know, Project Elanor was the initiative of BitofEarth.net – a web-based group that wanted to build a children’s reading garden as a charitable work, to promote love of reading and nature in the spirit of Samwise Gamgee.

Turimel writes: “Greetings from Oregon, home of Project Elanor. Fortunately, I didn’t work as hard as some folks did today, so I have enough strength left to type up a report.

It was a great day. There were about 50 volunteers at Project Elanor. Sean came out of the Institute building (a house) at about 9:30 or so, to a group fangirl-squeal; the first thing he said was “OK, you guys, we have to get past the celebrity thing first.” And that was what happened; everyone grabbed a shovel and got to work, including Sean.

There were supposed to be autograph sessions, where we would go in small groups to get his signature on one thing. Just as that got going, it started POURING cold rain, and then lunch arrived (catered by Gaffer’s Fish and Chips), and then Sean had to go inside to do some video stuff for our local PBS station, and, well, the autograph thing never really got going again. I guess he did sign some things during the day, but that was clearly not the focus of his presence there. It was pretty cool to just hang around with him all day to look up and see him raking dirt, or leaning on a shovel, or hugging someone.

The only bummer came when he had to leave a few hours earlier than expected. He was going to read a chapter of The Hobbit at the end of the day, but apparently he has to get up bright and early tomorrow to film something and his agent insisted on him taking an earlier flight. It was hard to day goodbye to him; we got a little more fangirlie again, with the last minute autographs and so forth. He also swore some of us in as honorary Goonies, which was fun but kinda fannish again. It was as though the clock struck midnight and the carriage turned back into a pumpkin; we’d had this wonderful treat, had him all to ourselves all day, doing something together WITH him, then suddenly he turned back into a celebrity, and we back into the adoring anonymous masses.

I’m not positive but I think I got the last hug of the event. He’s a very strong squeezer. Top of the line, really. 9.5/10 hug, all around.”

Turimel says that the garden wasn’t quite completed on the day, but the hope is to finish the work next weekend.