Sunday, 27 November 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like . . .

It is less than a month away from Christmas and Charlottetown has thrown itself into preparations for the festive season. There are Christmas trees on every street corner in the downtown hub. They are simply decorated with ribbon, white lights, and Christmas balls. Large Christmas light displays are hung on the Confederation Center walls and front yard of the Anglican Church. Province house has a huge filled out Christmas tree on each of their balconies and rich sagging pine boughs under the windows with deep red ribbons nestled in the centers. Homes of Islanders are dazzling with Christmas lights and Christmas trees are sitting in front windows. Confederation mall is a bustle with holiday shoppers and a Santa village sits on the top floor complete with a huge maroon sleigh brimming with brightly wrapped gifts. The ground floor is not home to one but 2 massive 14 foot Christmas trees with gold and silver Christmas ornaments. Walking around Charlottetown I feel like Cindy Loo Who gazing up in wonder and awe my toes and fingertips tingly and a smile bursting from my chest.

Wednesday marked the first real snow fall of the year. When I woke up I could just see a sliver of morning sun struggling to break through the heavy clouds before being swallowed. As I walked through the park to school I counted all the trees that were completely naked of leaves. All 48 trees were stripped, their colourful garments laying at their feet in a rumpled mess. The trees looked sleepy against the bland sky. No doubt they were in deep slumber dreaming of spring and were unaware of the threat of snow against them.

At lunch time I sat in the cafeteria facing the window looking out into the bay as I always do. The water was uncomfortably still. I have never seen the ocean this quiet before. The sky and water matched in colour and the horizon bled into each other, making it difficult to know where the sky began and the ocean ended. The tension in the air rose, and it seemed like the whole Island was holding its breath in excitement and dread. At 2:00pm the first snow flakes fluttered down from the sky and continued their glorious assault on the Island until the next morning.

As the day folded into evening the roads thickened with heaps of snow and the only sensible activity to partake in was sitting by the window to watch the winter scene play out. But sitting there, watching impatient snow, I felt immensely sad. My heart turned down cast, my eyes welled up with tears and I curled up in bed, holding Super Bowl tightly against my chest and I wept bitterly. I was homesick. I missed the first snow ball fight of the year on Waterloo campus. I missed the sound of people running through halls to dash outside and frolic in the fresh fallen fluffs. I missed the way school work would get discarded for an entire evening and the only thing that made sense was to sing Christmas carols around the piano until your voice was spent. I missed the smell of my mothers kitchen after putting up the Christmas tree, and the sweet aroma of apple wood burning in the furnace. I missed home.

But one cannot cry forever. After drenching Super Bowl in salty sorrows I moved onto drying activities. I attacked the kitchen table with wrapping paper, ribbons, and boxes and flung myself into the art of Christmas wrapping. I tuned my iPod to my "Christmas Epic" playlist and spent the evening in wrapping bliss.

The next morning brought a new set of challenges. Charlottetown lacks in sidewalk removal skills but I'm sure a lesson from my dad would sharpen them up. Having no clear sidewalk to walk to school on I did what the locals so confidently did and walked down the middle of the street. Oh sure there are cars coming but a kick step out of the way prevents you from being run over. Motorists seem to expect the increase in pedestrian traffic and have adjusted their driving accordingly. That morning stroll to school was delicious. Fresh fallen slow lightly covered houses, trees, and play ground equipment. The air was fresh and crisp and tingly. I wanted to play hooky and crunch through the snow all day.

On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to see a real live NHL Hockey Game! Well not exactly but it was the closest I was going to get while on the Island. PEI is home to the Rockets a hockey team that holds as much prestige and talent as the OHL. It was the PEI Rockets verses the Moncton Wild Cats. The first period was slow and uneventful with Moncton scoring two goals. But by the second period The Rockets had a fire under their ass and brought the game up to 4-2.

A fight almost broke out in the third period but the refs broke it up before it got started, much to the crowds dismay. I had seats right behind the penalty box and as the two angry players entered the box, they exchanged a sharp signal that suggested they would finish what they started. But unfortunately they didn't keep that promise, perhaps next time.

The third and final period came to a close and the crowd erupted. The Rockets took home the glory with a stunning 7-4 win. Good job PEI. What makes the red sand red? Blood! Moncton blood!

What would Christmas be with a Santa Claus parade? On Saturday night, just as the sun slipped into dreamless slumber, the 13th annual Charlottetown Santa Claus parade commenced. The evening was chilly but not too cold that we couldn't enjoy the parade and with most of the snow from Wednesday melted the streets and sidewalks were clear and dry. For an hour and a half University avenue was a stream of brightly coloured floats, free candy canes, marching bands and fire engines decked out to the nines. Thank goodness there were no house fires that night, imagine a fire engine with a giant Frosty the Snow Man showing up at your house to rescue you. I’m not sure which would be more terrifying: your house going up in flames or a 12 foot inflated Frosty. But of course the parade wouldn’t be a parade without the big man himself: Santa Claus. It was a magical evening.

So here I sit, with just under a month to go before Christmas and only 2 and a half weeks until I see Ontario soil. My homesick has been replaced with excitement, my Christmas shopping almost done, and the realization that this week starts a new rotation. Starting Tuesday I will be back on morning shift and rotating into the Lucy Maud lunch department. I will have an opportunity to make exceptionally fancy desserts for well to do paying customers. I am looking forward to shifting my attention from chocolate to crème brule and gebakjes, and to tell you the truth the 5:00am wake up call doesn’t look too shabby either. It is all one step closer to Christmas. One step closer to home.  

                                                       Go Rockets! Go!

                                        Misbehaving Monctoners

                                         Raspberry filled dark chocolates

                                                 Chocolates are messy

                                      Old school fire engine all decked out.

                              There's that 12 foot Frosty I was telling you about. Yikes!

                                              Here comes Santa Claus!!

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