30 Days of Souvenirs: Day 8

When the young couple entered the restaurant in the woods they were hoping for a sandwich, perhaps a nice microbrew. They had been hiking for a few days and had made their way back down the mountain, running out of steam and ready to eat something other than some raisins and peanuts and power bars. When they saw the smoke billowing from the little stone chimney they thought it was a cabin. But as they got closer they could make out a sign, carved in wood, with the word “restaurant”, hanging over the front door. Looking at each other in surprise, they opened the screen door, which let out a musical and metallic springy whine. As they walked in they were greeted by a hunched over little man with a tablet in his right hand, and a walking stick in his left hand. “Welcome!” He greeted the couple and suggested they take a table by the door. They sat down, shifting backpacks and scanning the interior of the small cabin like space. There were no other tables. There was nothing, really. Just the old man, who was waddling around the space muttering, and who finally made his way over to them. Okay, he said, I’m ready. Hold out your hands. They looked at each other, and the young man sheepishly held out his hands. The old man handed the girl his tablet, grasped his hands in his own, and said, ok, get ready to write. They didn’t know what to say, so she picked up the pen and waited. The old man closed his eyes, and began, "We explore the east. We explore the west. We drink up the landscape with our eyes, we fill our heads with sprawling vistas, we gorge ourselves on sunsets and crashing waves. We feast on first snow and last moonglow. We taste the damp dew in the summer night air and the crisp mountain morning. We ingest the breeze that blows warm across the wheated plains. We are intoxicated by the coyote howl, the whippoorwills call, the crickets buzzing.  We are full. Our bodies and our minds. Our whole being is one big overflowing restaurant. It is important for you to know each day’s menu, so you can better prepare a diet for your souls. Allow me to read your menu, that you have prepared for today. Your ingredients:.” And the man began to list off all of the things the young man had seen that day, the things he had ingested visually.  “Six snakes. Two turtles. Four frogs.  One toad. Fourteen squirrels. Twelve butterflies. Eighteen moths. Eight deer. One black bear. One possum. Two skunks. Five chipmunks. One vole. Two millipedes. Eleven spiders. Three bluebirds. One wood duck. Two owls. One whippoorwill. Seventy two rocks. Nineteen clouds. Three creeks. Two lakes. Three mountains. Six hundred and ninety five trees. One lightning bolt. Five million rain drops. Three hundred acorns. ………….” The list went on for an hour, and the young girl kept writing. Finally the old man sighed and pausing said, “Oh, and one salamander." Then he turned to the girl and smiling, said “Your turn, my dear.”

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