|The boy rode the scooter to school, the Christmas tree rode it home
Sandro has become very Venetian in that he truly, fervently believes that everything one needs to do should be done in one's own boat, and that for every job or even errand there is an appropriate boat.
I told him that a small outboard motor boat would be plenty big enough for the size of tree we could fit into our living room, but he brushed this off. I was missing the point. He announced: "Nonno Pietro (the grandfather of his friend) would use a mototopo."
"But he has a trasporti business," I replied. "We don't even have a small boat of our own."
Which, blatantly true though it is, was still the wrong thing to say.
"Ahhhh," he began, slipping into the whiney pleading reserved by other kids in other locales for kittens or puppies or bunnies, "when are we going to get a boat? We need a boat..."
I assured him the vaporetto would work perfectly well for the tree we were going to buy. Again he looked at me like I was clearly, stupidly missing the point, but I cut him off before he could get started again: "Talk to your mother about it," I told him, "okay? We just need to get a tree today."
There aren't really many places to buy a Christmas tree in Venice. Florist shops often stock a couple, and that's where we bought a tree--actually, a prickly little evergreen bush--the first Christmas we were here.
There's a large tree lot set up for the season on the edge of a park on Via Sandro Gallo on Lido--and that's where we bought our tree last year.
And there's the well-known seasonal lot beside the Church of San Felice on Strada Nova where we bought our tree this year.
Coming from New York, where fresh tree lots crowd the sidewalks all over the city, I was initially surprised that there were so few places to buy trees here. But the fact is, while practically every Venetian we know has a tree (some have two), they are all artificial. There's probably some cultural significance in the contrasting preferences of Venetians for artificial trees and most New Yorkers for real ones, but I'll leave that as a subject of rumination for someone else. It's the holiday season, there's too much else to be done.
I wonder if at some point Sandro himself, influenced by the traditions of his classmates and friends, will himself suggest that we buy an artificial tree.
In any case, lacking not only a mototopo but even the humblest of personal boats, we transported our tree con radici (with roots; that is, potted) on Sandro's scooter to the vaporetto stop at Ca' d'Oro, and on the vaporetto home.
To my great relief, we were early enough in the afternoon that the vaporetto was not crowded, and Sandro was so excited to have the tree--though it may not have been exactly the right type by most Venetians' standards--that he didn't complain about the totally inappropriate manner in which we were transporting it home.
I considered this an early gift.