Iowa Ginsberg walked through downtown Kekionga, enjoying the weekend-before-Christmas holiday atmosphere with the glorious smug relief of someone who had finished her last exam yesterday. Finals were over and it was almost Christmas—what else did a person need?
Except maybe a headband with reindeer ears and antlers and a green and red scarf that looked quite cute with the camel colored cashmere sweater you’d gotten as an early Christmas present from your boyfriend. Well, it was more “web safe tan” than camel, but it was cashmere and really warm and soft and Jack had declared he was celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with twelve presents for his Best Girl, the sweater being number three in the series. Iowa knew, of course, that the Twelve Days of Christmas were technically the twelve days after Christmas, between that holiday and the feast of the Epiphany, but she was not going to ruin Jack’s romantic idea with trivial details. (Also, presents.)
She turned onto Lincoln and crossed the street to the Courthouse square. The Parks Department had finally finished the decorating. From the red and green lights in the Bell Tower to the white ones in all the windows and the strings of little blinkers wound around the banisters and strung through all the trees and bushes, the red sandstone bulk of the Courthouse looked fairly festive. And, two on each side of the square, facing the street, were the topiary wolves, slightly larger than life size, decorated with burlap harnesses lined with silver jingle bells and wearing red Santa caps trimmed with fluffy white fur.
Iowa loved those wolves They’d been there every year since she could remember, watching over the town in every direction. It wouldn’t be Christmas without the wolves.
“Hey, Iowa!” She turned around, and there he was, only slightly late, and dressed up as she’d reminded him. Jack had never spent the holidays in Kekionga before and he’d had no way of knowing that you always wore something Christmassy when you came downtown to shop and look at the decorations on the “Saturday before.” He hadn’t done anything elaborate, but he looked handsome in a green sweater under his usual grey hoodie and a Santa hat like the ones the wolves were wearing.
(Very handsome. Really. He was seriously a bit of a dreamboat, and no one had any business looking that … attractive in a Santa hat. You go, Iowa.)
“Uh, Iowa?” he asked, looking charmingly baffled. “The … plant sculptures? Are those wolves?” Wow. It really was his first Christmas in Kekionga.
“Of course they are. They’re the Christmas Wolves.”