I had the great pleasure of reading and sharing the final three chapters of “The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien with my son today. This marked the end of a multi-year journey we have been on together, mostly reading before bedtime at least a couple of times per week. Last night (since we were ALMOST done with the final book) we watched the first DVD of the extended version of “The Return of the King” by Peter Jackson & company. That remains one of my favorite movies of all time, and “The Lord of the Rings” is without question my favorite work of fiction: ever.
On page 1000 of the paperback version we have, in the chapter titled, “The Grey Havens,” I enjoyed the following paragraph describing conditions in the Shire after “Sharkey” (Saruman) and his men were killed or forced out by the brave hobbits working together:
Altogether 1420 in the Shire was a marvellous year. Not only was there wonderful sunshine and delicious rain, in due times and perfect measure, but there seemed something more: an air of richness and growth, and a gleam of a beauty beyond that of mortal summers that flicker and pass upon this Middle-earth. All the children born or begotten in that year, and there were many, were fair to see and strong, and most of them had a rich golden hair that had before been rare among hobbits. The fruit was so plentiful that young hobbits very nearly bathed in strawberries and cream; and later they sat on the lawns under the plum-trees and ate, until they had made piles of stones like small pyramids or the heaped skulls of a conquerer, and then they moved on. And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass.
Ah, for a summer of bliss like that! Even a relatively distasteful chore like mowing the grass would seem a minor inconvenience for the joy of simple living amid good friends and the bountiful food and drink portrayed in this paragraph by Tolkien.
Indeed life can be very, very good… and it is often the simple pleasures which cause me to realize this most powerfully.
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