Hell yes, I went to see The Hobbit in its opening week last December. In 3D on the IMAX screen at the Rave in Chattanooga, no less, and bought an enormous bucket of popcorn and an $8 barrel of Coke, to boot. With massive containers on my lap, it was hard not to feel Hobbit-sized, though of course, there’s really nothing more distant from the Shire, either, than such over-sized and over-priced vats of junk food. The experience of the IMAX theatre is more akin to Isengard than a garden, and though I liked the movie well enough, I was happy enough to get home to Sewanee afterward.
Last summer, I wrote about the enormous black pine in the Oxford Botanical Garden that Tolkien had dubbed Laocoön. Maybe it was the inspiration for Treebeard, the eldest of the Ents, maybe not. You may recall that chief among Treebeard’s laments was his longing (pining?) for the Entwives. “We lost them and cannot find them,” he tells Pippin. Living in Sewanee, I understand his loss.
For some time on campus there was a tree that, because of two suggestive protuberances, was simply known as the “Boob Tree.” It was the sort of thing that you noticed, whether you wanted to or not, and when some students put a female face on the tree, well, the resemblance to a well-endowed woman was unmistakable, as you can see from the picture below, from Flickr. It was hard not to stare.
Alas, the tree was rotten inside, and in the summer of 2009, was taken down, at a time when nobody was around to protest. In the fall, a proper obituary was given in the Sewanee Purple, in an article entitled, “Famous, Sexy Boob Tree Cut Down.” It’s been years now since the Boob Tree vanished, but still, when I walk by the spot where the tree used to stand, I think of her. Where are you now, Sexy Boob Tree? How much more would I like to look upon you than any giant IMAX screen.
The Fellowship of the Ring (Book 3, Chapter 4):
When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf, and sap is in the bough;
When light is on the wild-wood stream, and wind is on the brow;
When stride is long, and breath is deep, and keen the mountain-air,
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is fair!
When Spring is come to garth and field, and corn is in the blade;
When blossom like a shining snow is on the orchard laid;
When shower and Sun upon the Earth with fragrance fill the air,
I’ll linger here, and will not come, because my land is fair.
When Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold
Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold;
When woodland halls are green and cool, and wind is in the West,
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is best!
When Summer warms the hanging fruit and burns the berry brown;
When straw is gold, and ear is white, and harvest comes to town;
When honey spills, and apple swells, though wind be in the West,
I’ll linger here beneath the Sun, because my land is best!
When Winter comes, the winter wild that hill and wood shall slay;
When trees shall fall and starless night devour the sunless day;
When wind is in the deadly East, then in the bitter rain
I’ll look for thee, and call to thee; I’ll come to thee again!
When Winter comes, and singing ends; when darkness falls at last;
When broken is the barren bough, and light and labour past;
I’ll look for thee, and wait for thee, until we meet again:
Together we will take the road beneath the bitter rain!
Together we will take the road that leads into the West,
And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.