The wind bites furiously as we step out of the car. Two bubbly, bouncy, blond neighbor girls accompany me, chattering happily. We pass the brick building in the quaint little town that groggily awakes at 9:30 a.m. on a sunny, -4 degree Saturday morning.
The neighbor girl points out an ice formation that rises up on the side of one of the brick buildings. “It was smaller the last time we were here,” she says, observantly. We enter the warm, welcoming front doors of the cozy, small-town coffee shop. “Ruby’s” it’s called. Faces from the room look up at us as we enter. Neighbors, friends, sisters and grandmothers sit comfortably at tables, sipping hot cocoa, coffee, whilst little children climb over tables with faces sticky with caramel rolls. We survey the room and choose a table of four, then walk up to the counter, hesitantly.
Luscious, gooey pecan caramel rolls, soft herbed pretzels, and white chocolate/cranberry scones stare up at us as we stand, looking through the clear shelves. Neighbor girl #1 points at the pretzel and declares that it is the best thing in the world. Neighbor girl #2 does the same to the caramel roll. We decide on two hot cocoas (with whipped cream, of course), one caramel roll, one herbed pretzel, and one Americano, for me. Back at the table, we wait; taking selfies and people watching. I observe two acrylic paintings of roosters watching over us from their perches high above.
“You could do that,” I say to Neighbor girl #2, as she sits, snuggling against my big winter coat. I point to the paintings and she laughs. “Noooooo,” she says. “One day, maybe,” I say, hugging her tighter. A biker comes in from outside. I am surprised he doesn’t have icicles hanging from his nose. He orders something small – like a scone – charges his phone for a few minutes, puts back on his gear and heads out into the frozen tundra. The thought of biking in this weather threatens to freeze my blood solid.
By now, the drinks and caramel rolls have arrived. The girls carefully peel back gooey, soft bits of the bread and sip on their creamy hot cocoa. I point to the little, handmade “ring” on the finger of Neighbor girl #1. “Congratulations on your engagement,” I say, jokingly. “Who is the lucky man?” She laughs. “Well, he is kinda poor, as you can tell,” she says, looking dubiously at the plastic creation on her finger. I smile. I have come to adore these little faces; freckles, big blue eyes and all.
These winter days are long. But the faces, the coffee, and these “ordinary moments” make them precious.