There is a quiet elation building at our place, a Hobbitesque type of elation. A hairy-footed, second-breakfast-eating, longing-for-creature-comforts type of excitement.
To wit: Amalia is reading The Hobbit (by J.R.R. Tolkien, but you knew that) to little Mack. It’s a re-reading, for her, but he has never read the book before (although he knows the story, just from listening to all of us talk about it) and it tickles me to hear them together. She reads. He laughs. She stops reading and says that’s all for today. He begs her “one more chapter, Amalia, please. . . ” She gives in. “Well. Maybe just a few more pages . . . ” and he chuckles and settles back into the couch cushions. I love this. How could I not?
The story of a rather small, home-loving little hobbit who goes on a quest (even though it is not to his liking or with his initial consent) and becomes a brave and heroic figure must be refreshing for the smallest member of our family, who (it must be noted) does receive more than his share of bossing around, due to his last born position, not to mention the bossiness of the folks he lives with (cough).
I’ve told him that if he would offer to help his sister fold the laundry, or weed her flower bed, or offer something to ease her chore burden, say, maybe she’d be able to read longer.
He’ll thinks a minute at this, and then clatters out the back door, to ride his bike for a while. I like to imagine that he is thinking it over.
Amalia has been giving in to the urge to make Hobbit seedcakes:
She made enough to take them to the farmer’s market this week.
Also, she recently made enough Elven Lembas bread to take to farmer’s market, as well. It was fun to sell it to people, as we assured everybody that a mere bite of it would feed a man for an entire day. The wives, especially, perked up at that. Would that it were true!
Amalia just recently started her own blog, called second breakfast, a reference, as you know, from Hobbit life.
That little video clip from the movie always makes me smile: “I don’t think he knows about second breakfast, Pippin.”
Amalia also is working on a very fun project, a book of Hobbit-related recipes. There are lots of references to meals and individual recipes in the Tolkien books. It makes you hungry to read them. On the very first page of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, we find that Bilbo’s cozy hobbit hole is blessed with “pantries (lots of those).” My curiosity, as a reader, is piqued. I wonder what the humble hobbit has hidden in his (plural!) larders? The thing is, Tolkien didn’t give out a wealth of information on this count. He does explain that, for Hobbits, “growing food and eating it occupied most of their time,” but he doesn’t spend much time describing exactly what they loved to grow and eat.
Amalia has set a goal of researching and developing recipes from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, for her book: meat pies. Blackberry tarts. Cakes. Raspberry Jam and Apple Tart. Mince and pork pies. Many, many pies. I can’t wait for the baking and the taste-testing to begin! 🙂 I’ve always wondered if my family is related to the Hobbits, as important as food is to us, particularly pies. We also spend large amounts of time collecting, growing, preserving, storing, and enjoying food.
Just yesterday, for example: I worked in my garden, made Greek yogurt out of raw milk (I traded some extra heirloom tomatoes to a friend for it), went to my folks’ house to cut a stock pot full of sweet corn off the cobs and process it for the freezer, and then I came home and got together all the necessary equipment so I could can tomatoes this morning. Soon my larder and my freezer and my kitchen cabinets will be full of wonderful foods for the winter, and we can settle back and just enjoy the snow and the cold that is slowly and inexorably creeping closer to us.
I was a bit surprised, when we talked with folks at farmer’s market, how many people had not read the Tolkien books. I just assumed that nearly everybody had read those books, but no. I hid my surprise a bit better than Amalia did. (cough)
I can still remember the first time I read these wonderful books. I guess I was probably twelve or thirteen, still engrossed in Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, probably. My dad was running the drugstore in Nelson, Nebraska. He had a little red wire rack near the front door of the store, filled with paperback books. I had my eye on a new book, “The Hobbit,” because it had such pretty artwork on the front cover. I don’t know how things work nowadays, but back then if books or magazine or comic books didn’t sell after a certain span of time, the storekeeper was instructed to rip the covers off (moan) and throw the books away (feeling faint). The covers were then sent back to the publisher, and the retailer got credit for the books that weren’t sold.
As a kid, I’d beg my dad (and the ladies who worked as clerks at the store) to save the piles of comic books and paperbacks that went into the trash every week, for me. They rarely would. I never could understand this! I know that I was just a quiet skinny little girl, so they probably didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to me, but . . . but . . . why–how–(sputter!)–why on earth could anybody throw away those piles of delightful books? I even remember putting up a large sign right above the trash can “STOP! Please don’t throw away books or comic books! Save them for AMY!Thank you.“
But those piles of books and comic books nearly always ended up in the trash. I don’t know if it was a clerk who just couldn’t stand the thought of piles of cover-less books and so forth cluttering up the back room for a day or two (until I’d happen by and discover them), or what. I would imagine that Dad had signed some sort of contract promising to throw away the books that weren’t sold, once the covers were removed. I don’t know. But I got into the habit of stopping by the store every day after school, just to dig through the trash. Some days I’d hit the jackpot, and there would be piles of books right there, free for me to take home and devour. Those were particularly blessed days.
And so that’s when I discovered The Hobbit. When I dug a copy of it, missing its cover, out of the trash bin in the back of Dad’s store. I was so happy! That book was a delight. A wondrous discovery. A revelation, of very fine writing and a completely compelling story. I was sucked into the story and just loved it, every word.
And that’s why I try to listen when Amalia is reading The Hobbit to little Mack. It’s still a magical story for me. The story of a small, humble, food-obsessed little creature, fighting against his fears to do something heroic, and grand, and very brave.
The new Hobbit movie, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is set to be released in December of this year. We’re just a bit excited about that.
Here’s the trailer for the movie, just in case you haven’t seen it yet:
Oooh, it looks grand, don’t you think?
I’m linking with The Prairie Homestead’s Barn Hop this morning. Join me!
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