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The Bark of Trees

Origer has a small stall in a prestigious part of The Mongers. In part because of it’s place within the Mongers and his incredible constancy, it has become a meeting place in that twisting built up maze of thin streets and broad awnings. “I’ll meet you at Origer’s in The Mongers,” one might say to a friend at the begininning of the day. The popularity of the spot may have something to do with Origer’s penchant for silently handing out paper pouches of small candied almonds to faces he knows. For everyone else, the draw is the incredible scents that waft from under his awning, from the back room, in the dark shadows where the grinders lurk, pungent.

Origer sells spices, herbs and resins. His shop is a large table covered with bowls of spices, some piled into neat cones, others under round plates to keep out the light. The wall of his shop is decorated with shelves, lined with tins of all sizes, each affixed with a small label letters in a light, tight script. Hanging from the ceiling are scales, many scales: he sells some, but uses most. He sits behind the table under the stars with a wooden box of scoops to one side and another box of paper squares to his other. When anyone needs something from the table, he reaches out with his long arms and wide hands to gently lift and scoop seeds or powders or dried leaves into the center of a square of paper, which he quickly folds into a neat parcel that needs no string. With deft strokes he repairs each spice pile when he’s done.

Origer is tall and broad, strong limbs and a long, bald head. He moves slowly in all that he does, careful with his limbs in his small shop. People say he never smiles, but he often does: he does so slowly, letting the smile creep across his whole face until he beams to tease the sun.