Archive for August, 2010

La Rentree
August 31, 2010

In Quebec, back to school is called “La Rentree”. The return or more specifically, the re-entry. Which is apt me thinks for the great journey that happens when summer nears its end. In June, we pack up our lives, like a spaceship full of tupperware bins of household goods, tents and tarps. We strap on the bike racks and bungy cord the bikes. And, so begins the annual migration from the routines, the schedules, the “ordinariness” of our lives. Mind you not forget the bug spray and sunscreen and the refillable water bottles. No travel-naut would be without.

Come late August, we prepare for the re-entry. That body slamming force of nature that puts us back on earth. We re-introduce our feet to socks. We search for shirts with longer sleeves. We begin the diligent process of filing in calendars on fridges with hockey games, piano lessons, and football practice. We cut out soup recipes from Canadian Living. Our thoughts turn to canning and freezing food for the winter (in my case, it’s only a thought, I never end up getting it done).  We re-organize cupboards and recycle the clothes the kids have grown out of over the last eight weeks. We make lists of things we want to do and things that need to be done (not nearly the same thing, of course).

I don’t think I could live in an all season climate. It would throw off my schedule. I was once in South Africa over Christmas – and while many things during that trip twisted my take on life, I was quite distracted by the combination of Christmas and summer holidays at once. I couldn’t cope with that. I need a 6 month interval to make it work.

So I wish you all a happy re-entry. A visit to the Fall Fair. A nice pumpkin from DeMilles. A yummy apple pie using this year’s crop. Shoes with socks. A warmer blanket.

And I’ll put another log on the fire (now that the fire ban is off) and watch the final moments of a long hot summer burn away hoping it will sear in my mind, that come February, I’ll remember, that summer will blast off again and I’ll be ready for take-off.

Happy landings, my friends. And please, exercise caution. Your baggage may have shifted in the overhead bin during landing.

plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose…
August 15, 2010

A lovely way of saying, here in la belle province, that history repeats itself. Not that you need 65 plus of your favourite relatives to prove it, but it helps. You see, last night, here at our family camping, we hosted a party to welcome my brother’s bride to the tribe. With the typical accoutrements, balloons, ribbons, pictures and all the family’s favourite foods – tourtiere, jambon, ketchup maison, feves au lard, pudding aux bleuets and sucre a la creme – like Grand Maman used to make.

Next to the laptop with the de rigeur slideshow of wedding pics off CD Rom, was a lowly old school TV with built in VCR. Running on it was a video, a collection of photos and home movies dating back to the fifties.  As I watched them again quietly today after “toute la gang” was headed home, it was a warm reminder that though life has changed, we’re not getting any younger and there’s no time like the present to enjoy the people you love, there were some striking similarities – and a few funny differences too.

My aunts and uncles, as young men and women, look like my grown cousins do now – except for the skinny ties, fewer fancy hats and the skinnier frames (my own included). My cousins, as kids, look like their own kids do now minus the i-pods and DS games and merchandised clothing. But the rest? Pretty much the same. Scenes of afternoon picnics, days at the beach, family get togethers, some of those same fold out chairs are still here at camp, I swear, Grandmothers who never sit down for serving everyone everything they need. Grandfathers who sit proudly watching their brood. Lovely party dresses for the girls and goofy bow ties for the boys at family get togethers.  Incredibly cumbersome wedding dresses. Long receiving lines with lots of hugging and kissing. People. Happy to be together. And, I guess, that’s what family is really all about.

So on that note. Be. Happy. Together.

Bonsoir. Bonne nuit. A la prochaine.

painting the town
August 6, 2010

Bonjour de Quebec,

Tomorrow in Salmon Arm marks the 5th anniversary of Paint the Town, a great fundraiser for our beloved art gallery. Congratulations and thank you to all the artists who participate and continue to make this live art action packed day such good fun. And to Tracey and her band of warrior volunteers a special thank you for making it happen yet again (with a second edition going next weekend at Roots and Blues – Paint the Festival)

In honour of paint the town, I thought I’d share a few of my Dad’s watercolour paintings of the scenes nearby our camp in the rural Lotbiniere Appalaches area just south of Quebec City. It’s a lovely part of the world. Settled by the British, the Scottish and the Irish. My anglo dad feels quite at home here and I like to think that happiness shows in the whimsy of his brush strokes.

Bon Weekend!

QUaos and Horder in la Belle Province
August 1, 2010

Bonjour de Quebec.

Every summer, I bring my boys to Quebec so they can live “en francais” and while I’ve never had a postal address here myself, I can safely say I know this place better than any town I’ve ever lived in – and I’ve lived in more than a few. You see, when I was kid, my mom would pack up the Acadian to the brim and bring my brother and I to la belle province for the summer so that we too could live “en francais”. It’s tradition. One that I’m proud to continue, these oh so many, years later.

So, to know Quebec is to know a few things.

1) best cheese curds in the world

2) remarkly inexpensive beer (24 for 22.99 – Canoe store would go bankrupt with that scheme…)

3) unbelievably expensive milk (maybe one subsidized the other…)

4) QU – as in the QUaos noted above – this province is so incredibly patriotic (I hope my western friends will forgive me) – many business names start in QU – and if they don’t, they end in BEC. Being from QUeBEC is part of your being – business and all.

5) H – Now, my mom has spoken English longer than I’ve been alive. And most of my relatives speak English despite what most of you “Henglish” think – they just put “H” where there aren’t any, then drop them from words that really need them. So the previous sentence should in fact read, here in Quebec, my mom has spoken Henglish longer than I’ve been Halive. Which is her polite way of telling me to go to Ell if I dare correct her pronounciation (which I long since stopped doing).

6) hot dogs (or should I say ot dogs…) – the bun tops are trimmed off and grilled to perfection. It’s a thing of beauty. And you can only enjoy that here (or should I say ear).

7) arts and culture – in the short 28 days a year we spend here, we benefit from an incredible array public art and culture – festivals of every kind (there’s a festival for beef, for heaven’s sake…),  music, exhibits, museums, plays – it goes on an on… but this one is mind blowing – and it’s a free public event every night all summer long. The Image Mill (images on the Mill at the Old Port of Quebec) – check it out below.

http://lacaserne.net/index2.php/exmachina/gallery/the_image_mill/#id=album-31&num=0

8) Horder – or should I say Order – the homes are remarkably well groomed – nothing out of place. Perfect in fact. The kids (and parents) are perfectly dressed. It’s a pride thing. Like Italy – they represent their whole family each time they step out the door – and they make an effort as well as an impression.

9) QUaos – but they drive like maniacs. And the occasional quiet conversation turns into a shouting match. Nobody giggles. Everyone laughs out loud. They are passionate. Kind. Loving. And a ton of fun.

And, come the end of July every year, there’s no where else on earth I’d rather be.

Bonsoir et bonne nuit!

Loulou (that’s french for Louise…)