The rapid nightfall of mid-December had quite beset the little village as they approached it on soft feet over a first thin fall of powdery snow. Little was visible but squares of a dusky orange-red on either side of the street, where the firelight or lamplight of each cottage overflowed through the casements into the dark world without. Most of the low latticed windows were innocent of blinds, and to the lookers-in from outside, the inmates, gathered round the tea-table, absorbed in handiwork, or talking with laughter and gesture, had each that happy grace which is the last thing the skilled actor shall capture–the natural grace which goes with perfect unconsciousness of observation. Moving at will from one theatre to another, the two spectators, so far from home themselves, had something of wistfulness in their eyes as they watched a cat being stroked, a sleepy child picked up and huddled off to bed, or a tired man stretch and knock out his pipe on the end of a smouldering log.
~ Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Around noon I lift seven hot jars containing ploughman’s pickle (a new recipe I decided to try when I came across it last week) out of the canner. It’s been a full, and productive morning. During the twenty-minute processing time I’ve cleaned up the kitchen mess so all I need to do, once the jars are all standing like soldiers on the kitchen towel next to the sink, is dump the water from the canning kettle.
”I’m ready to go when you are”, I call downstairs to Gerry as I put the canning tongs away until next time.
“I’m just waiting for you.” My husband comes upstairs and we get ready for our afternoon outing.
Gerry heads to the garage to back the car out; I lift the winter box from the top shelf of the closet and rummage around for a pair of gloves (during which time I come across a cashmere scarf with the tag still on it. Crikey.) Bundled up, we head down the hill toward downtown.
It’s our annual Christmas date afternoon—a tradition we started many years ago, and resumed when we moved back to Kamloops—a walk downtown to browse in the shops and enjoy a light lunch or snack.
The landscape has changed over the years. Where once there was an abundance of fun little shops to poke around in, there is now restaurant after restaurant peppered with a handful of high-end clothing stores. Not really our thing. Still, we enjoy a curried chicken croissant and share a couple of calorie-laden deserts at Swiss Pastry—one place that has remained deliciously the same over the years..
Then, hand in hand, we walk down Victoria Street and back up the other side. We pop in to the lone fun gifty shop and a couple of clothing stores that neither of us would shop at. It’s fun. The tradition is in the time spent together.
Later, we drive up the hill to buy soy milk and bananas, then return home where Gerry chops the fruit for the dehydrator and I busy myself making dog food. A phone call, and some sweet Skype time with our granddaughter, rounds out the afternoon.
It’s mid-December and all is simply well.