Usually summer is a bit of a slower season for us in the shop, but this summer has seemed busy – in a good way, mostly, but time seems to be moving at warp speed. The summer, while not quite over yet with this recent wave of warm days, culminated in taking a short trip to San Francisco with Caleb, my first time traveling alone with him, and I’m hoping to write more on that to come, but we’ve finally settled back into our routine as September marches on into October.
A few weeks ago, on Labour Day Monday, we took a seemingly final family outing to Merchants of Green, a cafe introduced to me by a friend now a few years ago. It’s tucked away on a side street off Queen, close to Guff, an antique furniture shop where we’ve picked up a few items for our shop.
One of my favourite things about Merchants of Green is that they have a very large space, with lots of seating, so it’s rare to go in and not be able to find a table. While Caleb has always been generally a pretty patient kid, he of course still went through the phase after being an infant and relatively docile, to crawling and exploring and putting odd things in his mouth, making it difficult to enjoy a few minutes peace at a cafe. He’s now old enough to sit quietly at a table, with a book or some pens and his milk – and possibly, if he’s good, a few bites of someone else’s treat.
We’ve been spending many of our weekends either at the cottage or running errands in the city, but with Caleb starting preschool that Tuesday, the Monday before it seemed a bit like the end of an era. It was nice to take it easy and to celebrate with a stroll through the neighbourhood (although most of the shops were closed because of the holiday) and to enjoy a break from the shop.
Caleb has always liked playing with fountain pens and pens, which I think just comes with the territory of living behind a stationery shop, and possibly also from the intense amount of withholding that happens with a toddler and expensive and easily damaged items. While there have been a few disasters with nibs, for the most part he knows how to get ink onto the page with a fountain pen without breaking anything
Caleb is old enough now to sort of grasp the concept of ownership, and he has really embraced the idea that everyone has a set of pens that they use – he even has his own Nock Co pen roll. It’s interesting because he has a very set idea about which pens he likes and wants, and he can be quite particular about filling up his case with his special pens.
I think we make quite a scene when we spread out at a cafe, but it’s sometimes the weirdos in life that make it interesting.
I noticed this shot of Caleb when I was uploading these photos from my phone, drawing with a pen cap on his finger, and it gave me a bit of a pause. I’m not sure when Caleb got to be a boy, and it’s no surprise that I’m ambivalent about how I feel about entering this new phase of childhood.
I remember when I was a teacher seeing students with this habit – marker caps, pen caps, joking around with all five fingers Edward Scissorhands, but even just casually drawing with a marker cap on a finger tip – and I have no idea where Caleb has learned it from. Certainly not from me or Jon (the risk of inky drops inside a fountain pen lid is deterrent enough, even if either of us hadn’t outgrown this habit out of elementary school) but is it something that all kids do just naturally?