In order to exist the Grange had to be a tiny spot, or else it'd be underneath a closed Subway shop, and it was small. There were three cars there too, so I didn't have any idea where to park. One car was trying to reverse out, but my being there stopped it, and the woman working there asked if I was there to buy a tree. ``I hope so.'' She directed me farther back to the plastic-lined greenhouse.
The other cars cleared out quickly. They speculated I might be the last person buying a tree as it was nearing sunset and they were down to the last five trees. The guy suggested the last person buying a tree should get some kind of prize, and I pointed out getting the last tree is itself a prize. Then the woman working there said they should put the picture of the last person buying a tree into the local paper, and she asked if she could take my picture as the last buyer since it looked like I would be it. I don't know how things like this happen, but within minutes I was posing with a tree and trying to look jolly.
My instructions on getting a tree, from my mother, were to get something cute. My father pointed out that at least as important is that I find one with a ``good smell'', and that ``nine out of ten trees don't have any kind of smell'', which is not a trait I'd come to associate with pine needles. So, while the people at the Grange were showing off various trees and rotating them I was trying to get a discrete sniff; as far as I could tell they all smelled like pine trees. I started looking on other bases instead: are they roughly symmetrical, do they not have huge unsightly barren patches, how will the cats crawl through them? Very nearly I ended up getting the first tree I'd looked at, but there was another which looked as if it had been deliberately left to the side, and it had a pretty good shape, strong smell, and was thick enough through its branches that the cats might never finish climbing through it. That's the tree I got, then.
They were impressed I'd brought twine, speculating that I was a Boy Scout. In fact, my father was (Eagle Scout), and he has lots of twine so he was glad to find an excuse to use some. But since they've been selling Christmas trees for years they knew to have twine too. And as I was pulling out, I saw someone else pull up. So much for my chance to be The Last Tree Buyer.
Trivia: In 1209 English King John provided the half-pence in duties taken from foreign merchants would go to fund construction of the London Bridge. Source: Old London Bridge, Patricia Pierce.
Currently Reading: The Age of Voltaire, Will and Ariel Durant.