Christmas eve night, about nine o'clock. Basket slung over one arm and bumping into my hip with every step, I trudge through the snow. The ribbon wound around the basket's slim handle glistens in a hint of milky moonlight, gold thread woven in elaborate patterns through the deep red cloth. In the basket, a red pillar candle and two tapers — scented "seasonal berry" — jostle in a nest of intertwined greens, bits of douglas fir and blue spruce smelling sweetly of bent needles and dried sap; wedged among them, the frankincense sticks, the crystal bowl full of dark sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, the small jar of spring water decorated with silvery snowflake designs and curled bits of blue string. The snow crunches as I feel my way along the un-shoveled path through the park, some of it falling onto the tops of my moccasin-like shoes and slipping down inside to melt against bare skin.
For several years now, I have thought of waiting tables as a hunter-gatherer kind of job. Each morning, I stalk my prey at their usual watering hole, serving up coffee and eggs with a sleek and casual smile; I am quiet, unobtrusive; I bide my time. My earnings are gifts from the gods of generosity and good luck, coming in unpredictable floods and trickles. I gather the silvery coins from the tabletops, I fold the bills into my apron pocket, and I move on again, cleaning, preparing for the breakfast rush, the lunch rush, the next herd to come and go. I'm no agriculturalist.