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As we approach the end of the Age of Peter Jackson in Middle-earth (for now), we find ourselves a bit like our dear Hobbits watching Frodo and Gandalf sail away to the Gray Havens: Misty-eyed, a little lost, reluctant to leave the shore until the ship has passed from sight. Parting from our friends with whom we have shared so much is painful, but there is more of our own story yet to write, and we must live it.
But what a wonderful journey it has been. From the first wide shot of the Shire with its furry-footed Hobbits, we were off on an adventure that would connect us to people across the world who loved Middle-earth too – we went to symphonies together, chatted on websites, attended movie premiers and Oscar parties. So devoted were we that our fandom spawned a movie – and brought new meaning to the word “Ringers.” Those of us who were not so adventurous or without means to travel were treated to little video moments of fan events and an insane number of production videos to help us feel included in the excitement. We bought the theatrical VHS version, then the DVD of same. We traded up to the Extended Edition DVD Sets and downloaded the soundtracks.
When we had memorized all the lines of every character in all the films, we went on to the appendices to learn all about making movies, and the forging of lifelong friendships that happens when you move to Middle-earth to dress up in wigs and pointy ears and amazing costumes, ride beautiful horses and explore breathtaking landscapes while breaking toes, ribs, teeth and suffering allergic reactions to your character’s makeup. All of that to make a movie – one that most people up until then had thought could not be made.
And then, when we could hardly stand the thought that The Hobbit might never happen, suddenly there were THREE more movies. We thrilled (and yes, sometimes grumbled at directorial indulgences) as more stories were brought to life on the screen. We will soon be investing in twentieth anniversary editions of everything the merchandising machine can throw at us to keep our Hobbit habit alive.
From the forging of The Fellowship until our soon-to-be final installment of The Hobbit, we have delighted in each new chapter and given up countless hours of our short lives in four-hour film viewings and then twelve-hour marathons. Soon – for the very dedicated and those for whom time still stands relatively still – there will be the “extended marathons” of six films from the Fellowship through Battle of Five Armies (only backwards – in chronological order).
But there is nothing for it, my dear friends. “It is time,” as Gandlaf said to Frodo, to sail away and be at peace. It is time to figure out what to do with the rest of the time we have been given. Our fellowship of fans and bloggers and movie marathons may fade over time, but we will continue to tell the stories to our grandchildren of the time when Middle-earth became a real place – a place you could actually visit and touch and smell and feel yourself a part of. A place that transports you from the world of literature and your imagination to the magical but real world that is modern Middle-earth. Who among us does not have NZ on our bucket list because of these films?
Should I never make it to the other side of the world, I will always feel as if I have been there in spirit.
And so now, here at the end of all things, we stand and take stock of how our lives have changed in this time. Some of us discovered Tolkien for the first time through the movies, and went on to read the books as well. The movies even brought some families together because of the mathoms and toys we gathered into our homes.
As for this household, we now find ourselves with an abundance of memorabilia and a lifestyle that demands downsizing. We recently came into the possession of a treasure-trove of collectibles. Someone abandoned them at a resale store! So we were compelled to rescue these friends from an uncertain fate. We have begun to place them on Ebay where we hope they will find a loving home and adoring family to give them the place of honor they deserve. Here is a link to The Google + album depicting the various lots we’ve grouped the items into by scenes in the films. “We have a CAVE troll” and Arwen at the fords of Bruinen challenging the Black Rider are just a few. Several are already posted for bidding, more will be posted in the next two weeks.
If you should find yourself in need of gifts for the geeks in your life, now’s the time! The precious is calling to you, it wants to be found!
PS – As of 12/16/14 Most of the action figures are selling or sold, but there are some still up for auction!
The Inn at Bree offered a full array of meats and desserts to satisfy the four hungry young Hobbits, yet Sam reckoned the true test of the establishment’s suitability was the quality of its beer! After some initial research, he determined that the beer and the rest of the menu were on a par with anything he had enjoyed “back ‘ome at the Shire, and that’s sayin’ somethin’!”
In the summers before the forming of The Fellowship, the four often stopped along the banks near the Buckleberry Ferry to glean the last of the sweet plump berries from the prickly vines. They sat on the edge of the ferry and pulled themselves to the middle of the waters to dangle their dusty feet in the deep, tossing the juicy gems into the air and catching them in their mouths, making faces at one another as if there were nothing pressing at all in their lives. No need to hurry. No reason to fear.
Merry and Pippin played their favorite game: arguing over who was taller. Sam would warn the two of them about how Farmer Maggot and his dog would soon track them down and find the basket of pilfered mushrooms and cabbages sitting next to them. His Old Gaffer would hold him responsible of course, he worried out loud.
Frodo told Sam he’d vouch for him if such a need arose. Then he lay back and stared up at the tree tops into the sky and wondered what had become of his old Uncle Bilbo. He missed his stories of adventures with trolls, dragons, dwarves and Elves. He thought that one day he would go on an adventure himself, if the occasion presented itself. Frodo couldn’t imagine what kind of adventure would ever draw him more than a day’s walk from his beloved Shire. Even so, Frodo resolved to bring up the idea with Gandalf, if the old Wizard ever did return to Bag End.
Frodo lived alone at Bag End for years after his uncle Bilbo left. Now that he was back from saving Middle-earth and the Shire was restored, he tried to settle in to his former way of life. But it didn’t seem like home without his dear friend Sam. Sam and Frodo became house mates and, after Sam married Rosie, Frodo welcomed the couple to stay.
One day soon after moving in, Sam found an interesting box in the closet of his room. The box was hidden at the back where the light was very dim along with several other boxes of various sizes. Taking it into the light he discovered a thick book held shut with a strip of leather. It was with utter delight that he opened the slightly dusty cover and read these words: “A Collection of Favourite Recipes by Primula Brandybuck Baggins.”
Sam was excited to show Mr. Frodo this treasure and began to call for him to come quick! Something in Frodo cringed to hear his friend call out this way, wondering if he were again in danger. So he was relieved to see Sam sitting on his bed bent over a book! “Look Mr. Frodo!” Sam shouted. “It’s your mum’s old recipe book!” Frodo took the book in his hands and a warmth came over him as he carefully leafed through it. Sam excitedly proclaimed that he would cook the meal of Mr. Frodo’s choice from that book this very night!
Indeed, there was! “Stuffed Pumpkin,” Frodo answered. As he said the words aloud they felt familiar, somehow. Sam set to work straight away and soon their home was filled with wonderful fragrances that promised a delicious meal. Frodo continued to ponder the feelings that stirred within him. He wasn’t sure if he was happy or sad or somewhere between. By the time he and Sam filled their bowls, Frodo’s memory came fully back to him of times his mum carried her stuffed pumpkin steaming hot from the oven with a proud smile on her face. He remembered fondly sitting at table with his parents and in his heart he could almost hear her in the next room telling him to wash up for supper.
Frodo looked up from his bowl. Putting down the spoon he sat back for a moment. Sam began to question his cooking as Frodo’s face was hard to read. “Is everything all right Mr. Frodo?”
And Frodo looked at his friend with a slow growing smile and a twinkle in his eyes. Because he finally understood. Frodo softly answered, “I’m home, Sam. I’m finally home.”