these are the days

house

On Saturday evening we built the walls of the gingerbread house. K and H were having a sleepover with us at our airbnb and K had a whole list of things she was excited about for the weekend. Her art class, a visit to the Christmas market at Fort Edmonton Park where there was a carousel to ride and hot chocolate to drink by outdoor fires and a wagon ride behind two mules called Bonnie and Clyde, the gingerbread house, the sleepover. A few years ago we’d built a house, using pretty much the same kit we used this time, but somehow the walls kept collapsing and Grandpa John had to use every trick known to house-builders to prop them up, even repairing the broken section with extra royal icing, a technique probably not to code.

Yesterday, before heading out to the local skating rink, K and H decorated the house. They are 7 and 5 and had a scheme. I just did what I was asked, which was mostly to drip icing from the bag in the places they pointed to. I said at one point, I’m a pretty good baker but not so good at doing the fancy stuff, and I heard this repeated a few times as the kids told their parents about the project. Even though the gumdrops kept falling off and had to be pressed into place with more icing, even though the little light-shaped candies kept falling to the floor, the house was decorated and much admired.

This morning I feel like K, listing the things I’ve been excited about over the past few days. The Christmas market, watching the carousel with the painted ponies rising and falling on their sturdy poles, walking out to buy warm bread at Boulangerie Bonjour in the next block, eating prime rib at the table set by H with a tablecloth printed with elephants, 3 candles providing soft light, reading stories with a child leaning against me, H’s questions in bed the other night (“If a tornado and a hurricane got in a fight, who would win?, “Is it 10 ‘o’ clock yet?”), the walks back and forth to their house on snowy streets, and sitting here at this desk, looking out at the roofs of Strathcona, magpies gliding across from tree to tree.

the morning2

Three chimneys are sending up sweet smoke into the morning and later in the day we’ll have an outing, maybe across the river to the library or over to Woodrack for coffee and a treat. These are the days. When I remember last winter, it was long and lonely, John recovering from botched surgery and me wondering how long the pandemic would last as I washed masks, planned the single weekly grocery shop, made sure hand sanitizer was in the car. These are the days that were waiting, bright as carousel horses, gumdrops on gingerbread walls, the magpies in the tree next door, clear air and the sunrise surprising me each time I look out.

the morning

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