Over at the elementary school, the kids are working on fairy houses. There is a local author, Tracy Kane, who writes a lovely series of childrens books (and photography books) based on these small creations. One of the things I love about the books is that the fairy houses are actually made from items you find in the forest, they aren't tiny enchanted toadstools or perfect little mini-cottages, these fairy houses are entirely natural, built into trees and bushes, or simply constructed from the debris you would find on the forest floor. It adds to the element of realism in the stories and as the children gather leaves and rocks and crab apples to build their own fairy houses, their imaginations come to life.
Amaya came home yesterday full of excitement and asked if she could decorate the dining room table for dinner. Of course I said yes and she immediately ran out into the front yard to look for treasures. It made me pause because I don't often find time, except for holidays, to focus on the table settings. Martha Stewart definitely doesn't live here. Don't get me wrong, we've invested in a variety of pretty and useful dishes and place settings, and have a lovely and rustic candle holder that runs along the center of the table, but other than occasionally changing up the place mats or tablecloths, I don't really think about the table.
Clearly my daughter does. As she painstakingly arranged her centerpiece, occasionally running back outside or upstairs for another piece to add to the arrangement, she glowed with passion and pride. The centerpiece was kind of perfect, low on the table so as not to be intrusive or obstruct conversation. It was colorful and engaging, giving us something to discuss as we looked at it. It was seasonal and brought a little of the outdoors inside. Most of all, it was fun. It made everything feel a little more festive and homey. It reminded me to look at the table more often and think about the dining room as an extension of the kitchen rather than just the place where we bring the food to eat.