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From door to door by Chiara Cadrich

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The childhood door

The morning sun sends its light rays through a delicate foliage, bathing the garden with a gentle spring torpor. The old hobbit adjusts his straw hat and begins to spade the last furrow for carrots.

A small urchin, not taller than two pumpkins, has hidden behind a century-old elm tree to watch his grandfather.

- What are you doing, GrandDa?

- Oh! Here you are, my little scamp, you have escaped your grandmother again! You have her run after you as usual, poor old thing…

Panting at the rhythm of his spading, the old hobbit monitors the kid with the corner of his eye. At the end of his furrow, he wipes his forehead and agrees to answer:

- Well you see, Gerry, I am preparing next week’s supper, while your GrandMa is cooking today’s meal…

But the boy is gone. Grandfather sighs. He sows the seeds and sets a safety net. Finally he cleans up his spade and goes to the shed, at the bottom of the garden. The heavy door is half-open.

The ancestor nods: all the neighborhood kids dream to enter his shed.

For this is not a simple garden shed. The grandfather had affairs in his youth. One day of quarrel with his elders, he ran away in the wilderness with mysterious companions.

He was believed dead, but returned one morning, his arms full of gifts, his mind filled with tales of yore and colorful memories. His travels also gave him an extravagant and eclectic taste for unusual art objects and motley ornaments. Under remote skies, he also contracted, they say, some malignant fevers, that may only be cured by strongly fermented nectars. Do not worry for him, Grandpa knows how to heal himself...

To the wondering eyes of his progeny, especially Gerry, the jealously guarded shed tightens treasures, with obscure origins if not positively ill-gotten. Mysterious chests and jute balls are piled besides tools, planks and trays of onions. Fading portraits and strange works adorn the walls. But children may not enter. The round oaken door, heavily polished and burnished by the weather, is nailed with protective talismans, terrifying masks, amulets stolen from exotic distant peoples. The bright colors and threatening forms prohibit access to the sanctuary, even for the boldest.

Yet the little rascal Gerry - a baby hobbit but already a daredevil – has crossed the threshold of the unknown.
Grandfather approaches on tiptoe and glances inside.

Astride a tatter’s bag, Gerry is helmed with an old tin pan that has lost its handle. Wielding a sickle, he decimates goblin hordes, riding at the forefront of the King's Guard.

- I already forbade you to come here, GrandDa growls, it's dangerous!

He removes the tool from the hands of the urchin, whose lower lip trembles beneath a wet and imploring look.

Grandpa keeps a stern look. Yet deep inside, he is rather proud of the courage of his grandson, still so small, and the panache of his childhood dreams. Drawn despite himself by the tales gleaned in the old days, he takes the toddler by the hand and installs him on the bench.

Putting a strange leather hauberk on, looking fierce, he sits next to the child. After affording a swig of mixing to clear his memory, he tells him the exploits of Odrazr, the hero who landed in the distant days of yore, to free the people of Eriador from the yoke of orcs and evil things.

On the threshold of the door, in these moments of eternity, childhood distills its ephemeral delights - the golden hues of a promising morning, the protective fullness of a benevolent adult attention, the quiet intimacy of the shelter, softly lulled with chirps outside, the fascination for a spellbinding tale, scents of seeds and rare perfumes, the assurance of so close a stranger, the immortal glory of the captain of the men of the sea, an adventure thrill at the edge of the unknown...