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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!
Back in the finer days, before orcs and cave trolls ravaged the great city of Dwarrowdelf, Balin’s kin would gather for his legendary feasts, which always included his famous Spiced Beef. Now the dwarven people, as we well know, are a rather proud folk; prone to boasting and very fond of contests to demonstrate their prowess. Games of one-ups-man-ship between best mates were a daily occurrence.
And so, on the mornings before Balin’s gatherings, it was customary for the elder dwarf to summon a few of the younger dwarves and challenge them with the question, “which of you lads has the sharpest axe, the best aim, and the strongest arm?”
As each one roared, “I DO!,” they snapped to attention, fixing their eyes on Balin’s eyes, planting feet firmly in the soil and crossing their arms over puffed-out chests. “Well, then,” Balin continued, “it seems as though we have a stalemate – each of you believes he is the best, but only one can be the champion. We will have a contest. I plan a feast for tomorrow, and we are short on game. Go out to the hunt, and bring us back a prize. The first one to return before nightfall with the largest kill shall be the champion.”
As the young dwarves ran to gather their weapons, Balin would turn to his best huntsmen and, with a wink and a nod from him, the men set about the task of butchering the game they had caught before that morning’s sunrise. Even if the lads managed to bring back a fox or a few rabbits, let alone a buck, it wouldn’t be enough to fill this hearty and hungry lot. And it would take hours for the meat to slowly roast until it fell cleanly off the bone. They would have the day to get at least the first course ready to eat.
The young champion had the honor of being seated next to Balin at the feast, his contribution to the meal now roasted to perfection. The first bite was Balin’s, who would proclaim that it was the most delicious of all the choices laid out before them. The cousins and brothers, mothers and sisters, grandmothers and other elders of the company would then cheer the young hunter and dig into the feast. Strong drink flowed and merry songs of conquests were sung with great gusto.
Torches were lit from the fire and families slowly went off to sleep, filled not just with food, but the hospitality of their friend and elder, Balin, who was greatly esteemed by all who knew him.
This is a very delicious recipe that works well in a crock pot but for authenticity why not try a cast iron dutch oven if you can find one. Add vegetables to make it a stew if you like, and soak up the juices with a crusty garlic bread! We also suggest shredding the cooked beef for sandwiches to stave off your hunger while you watch the Oscars to see how The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was honored.
3 News NZ online has a link to The Middle-earth Foodie in a story dated December 16, 2012, about a new book being written on food inspired by Tolkien’s works.