Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Thursday, November 1, 2007

As Many?

We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?

-Wendell Berry

Last night was Hallowe'en; for the first time since my Spouse and I met, we had not a single trick-or-treater. Luckily, I suppose, we had not been expecting any. We live in an apartment that has a common front door and so it would have been impossible for random people to come in.
When we lived in California in a small old town, every year a long stream of children would come by for a period of about three hours, and then fade away when we ran out of goodies or the town ran out of children.
It was lovely.
Particularly I remember the tiny bumblebees that were so little they had to get their mothers to knock.
Before living on that street, my Spouse and I, due to growing up with ne'er a busy street for miles, had not experienced trick-or-treaters, although we knew what it meant.
We didn't, then, know how much to offer each child or even how many would visit us. When they initially started trickling by, I held out the basket of chocolates and sweets, of which we must have had close to a thousand.
One group of children took a single, solitary sweet each, delicately. Afraid that we would be left with an enormous supply at the end of the night, we insisted that they take some more.
"As many as you like," my Spouse said.
They looked up at us with astonished faces, mouths gaping.
"As MANY?" they gasped in unison, in wonder. Their eyes positively lit up.
We guessed, from their eagerness, that the evening's supply might shortly come to a grasping finish.
However, as they all reached in for the taking, I can vouch for the fact that they took not one, but four at the very most. They were jubilant. And away they went before we had time to tell them what nice, polite and delightfully unselfish children they were and that we would recall them in years to come.
Our most favourite, though, he trick-or-treated alone. He might have been eight years old. He stood on our doorstep without an adult in sight. He wore a suit and carried a briefcase. We were puzzled, at first, unsure what he was supposed to depict.
He did not say a word. I held out the basket.
He still maintained a stoic, stony silence as he clicked open his briefcase, as his fingers dangled ever so briefly over the choice, as he punctiliously selected just one chocolate from our offering. Not a murmur came from him.
With a precise air of aloofness he gently placed his prize into the briefcase and snapped it shut with a suggestion of professionalism one rarely witnesses in adults.
I am convinced to this day that he nodded, almost imperceptibly, in our direction before turning on his heel and exiting our garden.
Somewhere, somehow this tiny salesman had learned that less is more, judging both by his veritably simple costume and by the net weight of his chocolate selection; and he was one trick-or-treater we shall not forget.

No comments:

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.