The streets were curiously calm in a city of millions, as workers headed home, a lighter crowd than usual. A distinct note of excitement rode the arctic air. Café windows steamed, people grabbed a quick bag of groceries, things they would need in preparation for Christmas Eve's réveillon.
This woman, Christmasy in her red coat, was at the market, buying cranberries for scones.
A young woman served, one eye on the clock; she too had somewhere to go in a half-hour...
...and a couple dragged their tree home.
The city simultaneously expanded with a burst of song: Christmas concerts, symphonies, céilidhs. Someone set up a xylophone on the street for passers-by to tap. Two teenaged boys sang a carol in harmony at a bus stop, with a little competition to hold the final note.
There's an expansiveness of spirit, too. A sidewalk tree vendor posted a sign:
My friend Marina and I spent the evening in rapt conversation at our neighbourhood hangout, Notre Dame des Quilles. The house bought a round.
Outside, a couple smoked; the young man's beret in silhouette. If you look straight down under the "A" you can just see its tip, which shifted as he bobbed to the music.
And now it is the day of Christmas Eve, time to wish you happy holidays, as even the bus does here:
Your presence and comments have been a continual gift through the year; thank you for your ideas, stories and good will. I wish you all good things during your own breathing time.
I'll take the next two weeks off. See you in the Passage on January 7, 2014.