This post contains spoilers for both the book and film versions of The Lord of the Rings.
Some of you may recall that for my 50th birthday I decided to celebrate Hobbit-style, since Bilbo and Frodo were both fifty years old when they each set out on their respective adventures. Well, my sister’s birthday was on March 5th, and she decided she would do the same. After all, that’s the date that Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are finally re-united with Merry and Pippin after the latter had been abducted by Orcs, only to find the two Hobbits feasting, drinking, and smoking amid the ruins of Isengard, whereupon they are led to the remains of Saruman’s guard-house for some much-deserved R&R (if anyone’s wondering, my sister would be Merry in this scenario and I would be Pippin, despite her being the younger).
They smoked in silence for a while, and the sun shone on them; slanting into the valley from among white clouds high in the West. Legolas lay still, looking up at the sun and sky with steady eyes, and singing softly to himself. At last he sat up. ‘Come now!’ he said. ‘Time wears on, and the mists are blowing away, or would if you strange folk did not wreathe yourselves in smoke. What of the tale?’J. R. R. Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”
‘Well, my tale begins with waking up in the dark and finding myself all strung-up in an orc-camp,’ said Pippin. ‘Let me see, what is today?’
‘The fifth of March in the Shire-reckoning,’ said Aragorn. Pippin made some calculations on his fingers. ‘Only nine days ago!’ he said. ‘It seems a year since we were caught. Well, though half of it was like a bad dream, I reckon that three very horrible days followed. Merry will correct me, if I forget anything important: I am not going into details: the whips and the filth and stench and all that; it does not bear remembering.’ With that he plunged into an account of Boromir’s last fight and the orc-march from Emyn Muil to the Forest. The others nodded as the various points were fitted in with their guesses.
My sister also of course had to show me up by downloading and printing out a jpeg of Bilbo’s Long-Expected Party sign, you know the one that says “No Admittance Except on Party Business” and tack it to the door to her room, wherein we would be re-watching the extended version of Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King for what’s probably around the hundred-and-eleventh time following the feast. It looked so nice I took a picture of it and used it as the header image for this post.
This early March reunion of the remainder of the Fellowship also just happens to be the point at which I’ve arrived in my annual re-read of The Lord of the Rings, (the chapter titled “Flotsam and Jetsam”), so it was cool watching those scenes right after having finishing that chapter of the book (which, by the way, occurs in the middle of The Two Towers, though in the movie trilogy the scenes take place near the start of The Return of the King).
As you might have already guessed, due to the pandemic, this was a party attended by exactly two. Also, due to the recent heavy snowfall our driveway was covered with ice by then so we hadn’t been able to get a proper grocery shipment. We had to make due with what we had, so no meat pies this time, alas. But much like the company relaxing in what was left of Saruman’s guard-house, what we had was still pretty good: fresh-baked homemade bread, butter, honey, jam, hard-boiled eggs, a large block of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, salami, prosciutto, grape tomatoes, and best of all, plenty of beer (though sadly no pipe-weed).
Yet as a follow-up to this party, since we didn’t really have everything we would’ve wanted this time around due to the rudeness of winter overstaying its welcome, we plan to have an even bigger Tolkien-themed celebration on March 25th: the day the One Ring went into the fire and the Dark Tower was destroyed. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to re-watch all three Peter Jackson films then, but we’ll almost certainly give The Return of the King yet another viewing, because why not.