Postcard, just above Mill Creek Ravine

last night

Last night, our final evening with our family in Edmonton, we stood on the street while our son helped his children on their scooters in front of their house. We could have helped but honestly, it was so cold (for grandparents accustomed to a mild April on the west coast) and one of the children was quite capable of scooting along on her own. The other one beamed as his father guided him up and down the sidewalk.  (I made the hat the youngest is wearing!)

We walked, we ate cinnamon buns at Wild Eharth, we ate dinner at Chianti on Whyte Avenue as well as several wonderful dinners cooked by Cristen, we bought pastries from La Boule and had the family over to our Airbnb one morning, and we read many many stories. My favourite? Probably one we gave the kids a year or two ago: Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham. If I missed a word, Kelly, age 3, was quick to correct me. If I didn’t turn the pages quickly enough, Henry, age 1, turned them impatiently.

For us? I bought John W.S. Merwin’s Garden Time. And for myself, a Notting Hill essay I’d meant to order but somehow didn’t: Kirsty Gunn’s My Katherine Mansfield Project. I began it last night, in my bed on 83rd Avenue, with the sound of Whyte Avenue muted out the window. I know I’ll be writing about it here.

And in the middle of the night, only a few hours before we needed to leave for the airport? I was sitting at the window, making notes for a long essay I need to write about houses and generations and love. On the plane, more notes. I was imagining my grandparent’s house in Beverly, the park kitty-corner to it. I was thinking of all of us last May building a deck for Brendan and Cristen, and the May before, building a pergola for Forrest and Manon. I was thinking of any place the generations are gathered, the table set, the stories set into play as easily as music.

Wish I was there.

the table is ready

your table is ready

A cold clear day in which I’m preparing to welcome guests for a New Year’s feast of chicken tagine, roasted vegetables, beet and orange salad, and Liz’s Christmas pudding, steamed in beer. The guests are all bringing contributions (oysters from a cold beach have been promised) too so we will not be hungry. There are sparklers and Cava for midnight. The table is ready for the 7 of us and in a few minutes I’m going for the last swim of 2017. Not in the lake, though I’m sure some people participate in that ritual. I’ll do my slow kilometer in the local pool, thinking of the year, its highs and lows.

A friend sent a poem this morning, W.S. Merwin’s “To the New Year”. Its final stanza speaks to me so clearly of the old year and the new year.

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible