who do we think we are?

There’s nothing like a month away from the every day to get a better sense of oneself. Every year, I transport my kids and my business to a small village in Quebec slightly south of Quebec City, arguably one of the most beautiful places around, to reconnect to my roots and my family, immediate and extended, to remember where I came from, who I am and who I want to be.

As with any ritual, there are definite expectations. My dad makes the coffee. My kids make their own toast in between hours and hours of bike riding. Grand Maman prepares dinner. We eat when she rings the bell. Campfires are de rigueur, and my brother is in charge. Unless a storm comes thru. But even they are on schedule. At night. It’s uncanny. You’re lulled to sleep by a gentle wind, awoken about 4 am to pelting rain and by 7:30, once the coffee’s on, you wake up to a wet campsite and a sunny sky.

There is also the required day or so to to reacquaint yourself with what may have faded from short term memory over the last 11 months. In Quebec, the voices are louder. The clothes are fancier. The homes are quainter. The AM radio stations are techno-disco-ier. And the drivers, well, they are, no doubt, insaner. And if those aren’t words, they ought to be around here. Also, the cheese is better. The milk is more expensive and the beer is a steel of a deal. And finally, Montreal is still a crumbling mess, which Quebecers have known for a long time, just seems the evidence has been mounting exponentially theses past few weeks.

But what invariably surprises me is that for each month of August I spend here, I get a better understanding of myself which is slightly harder to put into words, but this is a blog, so I’ll try my best.

For one, when living mostly outdoors, I am more relaxed. The pace of the day seems more natural and things fall in to place much more easily. What needs to get done, gets done. What doesn’t need doing doesn’t really matter.

I read. Something I rarely do at home because I get too wound up in schedules and to do lists. And what a joy it is to get lost in a really good book. One, like your holidays, you wish would never end. But if life were one big holiday, we wouldn’t really appreciate it, now would we?

I listen. Again, something I’m not always good at when I’m home. I love to listen to my Dad talk about anything really. Politics, parking, whatever. I love hearing his voice. I love listening to my Mom talk to her sister. I needn’t say a word. I love listening to my uncles bs each other for hours at a time. And the jokes do get funnier as they years go by. And my brother and I will giggle like we’re kids in school. Ridiculous – but so funny.

I sleep. It’s so quiet here, despite the midnight rains, that I go to sleep knowing, without a doubt, I’m in for a good nights rest. As sure as the crickets call and the cows moo and the sun rises.

I watch. I’ve seen Quebec change so much over my lifetime. Each time we drive through a village, I always wonder what it would have been like in its hey day when every motel was in business and every road side mechanic shop was busy. Quebec, it seems has been spared the devastation of the last recession and there’s a new found prosperity in most villages. Though the churches are still empty and the general stores are fewer and far betweener. Many farms close to the city have been converted to tidy suburbs, but overall, la vie est belle in la belle province, except for the highways in Montreal where “l’exception fait la regle” (the exception proves the rule).

So I vote to bring back to age old tradition of the month away. When the pace slows and the important things, as mundane as they may seem, take importance again.I’d like to think it would help us all, at least once a year, to take the time to figure out who we think we are.

Viens d’asseoir un peu. Ca va te faire du bien.  (translation – come and sit down for a bit, it’ll do you good)


2 Responses

  1. Bonjour Louise,

    Don m’a envoyé ce lien. Intéressant de te lire! Je suis heureux que tes vacances soient si plaisantes et renouvelantes… J’aurais aimé en lire davantage sur tes impressions du Québec, ce sera sûrement pour une prochaine fois. Je ne savais pas non plus que tu avais autant d’attaches avec le sud de la ville de Québec!

    Avec toute mon amitié, Jean-Yves Duclos

    • Bonjour Jean-Yves. Quel plaisir de te lire! En effect, je suis native de Quebec et ma famille vient de St David. Comme enfants, nous avons passer nos etes a Quebec et maintenant avec mes deux garcons, moi aussi je me donne le cadeau d’un mois a Quebec. J’espere que tout va bien pour toi. Au plaisir de ce reparler ou meme se revoir bientot. Amities, Louise

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