The Easter Basket

Last night, I bought Ophelia an Easter basket and filled it with Easter presents. Here’s what it looked like:

When I had put it together, I realized what an unusual Easter basket it was. It contained a chocolate bunny, but also markers, a sticker book, Model Magic, craft sticks, a small notebook with butterflies on the cover, a sticky notepad, two Lego figures, tape, stickers with prices on them (for when she plays store), a compass, multicolored stickies, a logic game, and a white board.

What I had given her were mostly supplies of various sorts. Things she could make with. I’ve found that those are the best presents for her. And sure enough, this morning she figured out the logic game, and started making things with the rest.

I think there are people who have a compulsive drive to create, to make things that are new or to alter what they have. It’s nice to see it in Ophelia. I see it in myself as well: when I buy something, I often end up altering it, making it into something I like better. Or I put it together with something else in an unexpected way. (Last fall, Ophelia and I picked up acorns and put them in a pressed glass bowl that sits on the dining room table. Eventually, she decided to paint some of the acorns, so now we have painted acorns in the pressed glass bowl. Although at the moment they have been replaced by a vase of tulips and are sitting on a shelf. But the creative life involves that sort of constant change. One day you have acorns, the next day they’re painted various colors.)

When we moved into this house, I put some things in Ophelia’s room, like the books I had growing up and books that Ophelia’s been given:

But she did the actual decorating herself, which is why the walls look like this:

She made the silhouette in art class.  The poster is for the BBC Narnia movies.  The postcards stuck randomly on the wall are from art museums, and were chosen by her as decoration.  They are scattered all over the room.  And the dinosaur tapestry was one she asked me to make for her when she was several years younger, out of a pattern we found in a fabric store.

I bought myself an Easter present as well. Last night I had dinner at Asmara, the Eritrean restaurant in Cambridge, and afterward I walked across the street to Pandemonium (not the circle of Hell, but the science fiction and fantasy bookstore). And there I found a book by John Crowley that contains three of his novels, The Deep, Beasts, and Engine Summer:

I don’t have an official Easter basket, but if I did, I think it would also contain supplies. Crowley’s novels are supplies of sorts, because the most important thing I do, the most important aspect of my creative life, is writing. And all the things I read and experience go into that writing. So last night, I added the following to my tools: the taste of honey wine; the strange, spicy flavors of Eritrean food; how it feels to pick that food up with pieces of flat, sour bread; how it feels to eat from a low table shaped like a mushroom; the taste of spiced tea; Cambridge at night, wet with rain; the glaring lights of a science fiction and fantasy bookstore, with gamers talking in the background; three novels by John Crowley. That’s quite a lot to pick up, quite a lot in my Easter basket.

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