right away in this first chapter, I found myself obsessing on the use of water and gates, knowing how frequently we will encounter them. I was surprised not to encounter stars, since my theory is that the professor mentions them at pivotal moments when people are being "watched" over by the powers - Bilbo's leaving certainly qualifies as one of those pivotal moments. This strengthens the old guy's spirit for me even more - the powers don't seem the least bit worried he will not be up to the task.
As I start to think about the rivers (we are approaching one of my favorite lines, eeee, but not yet....) and how they teem with the essence of life for me I was struck in the prologue by the professor saying that the sea had become a symbol of death to the hobbits. I either never noticed that before, or never took it in properly.
And I don't believe I ever consciously caught the Gaffer's dislike of Sandyman, the miller. It's true, I am so anxious to get to Bree I have not been giving these early chapters the attention I can't help but give the rest of the book. Even when I was reading with The Inklings, by serendipity I came in on chapter 10 with Strider.