journal notes – montreal

Me on flagstone patio in wicker chair—a collection of mirrors among the clematis and to my right a pool of much-loved fish that have recently received an infusion of ice, so hot has it become—reading about Ringuet’s life while somewhere a piano is played, windows open.
Dinner: mackerel and greens, marrow and baguette, pickles, asparagus salad, followed by tea in the park.
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In my room I find a book of photos by Annie Liebowitz who says that The Summer of Love was the end of flower power culture, not the beginning—that you could get mugged in Haight Ashbury by then. This reminds me of a story I wrote, inspired by my regret at having never been a Haight Ashbury flower child.
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Lunch: spinach salad with smoked trout, frites.


(“One man’s meat is another man’s poisson” ~ A. Lismer)

The advantages of living with two cultures
Strike one at every turn,
Especially when one finds a notice in an office building
“This elevator will not run on Ascension Day”‘
Or reads in the Montreal Star:
“Tomorrow being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception,
There will be no collection of garbage in the city”;
Or sees on the restaurant menu the bilingual dish:
This city is like a favourite wild child the way it makes you love it one minute then annoys you the next. How can you be angry with it for being so alive… except that its noise can sometimes be inconsiderate. Those voices… Hear me! See me! Hahahahaha! And to the neighbours’ wee hour reveries, you want to shout: does no one own a watch?? You spend the night awake cursing the irony of a hall clock that chimes every quarter hour then nap in the light of the city’s eccentric decadence and wake to offerings of freshly baked bread and strong tea and you forgive it as you always knew you would.
Today, a lunch of six pois, beans really, and gazpacho, conversation. A walk along heated streets, laughter en route, no sparrows, thank god. And at 6 p.m. bells are ringing beyond this mirrored garden, these rooftops, and I know that on the street they are also heard by those smoking and drinking and tabernacking at those hightop tables near the boulangerie where I bought my dinner to go… a saumon quiche epinard and salade verte, une petite s’il vous plait… and where when I paid and was desperately trying to keep up my end in French with the lad at cash who kindly didn’t switch to English, or didn’t know how, I unknowingly dropped a $20 bill on the floor and he tried to tell me but I didn’t understand and then an English-speaking girl picked it up and said: “Excuse me, is this yours?”
And now on this patio, a breeze. Montreal wanting to kiss and make up, all quiet innocence tonight. There is always kissing here. Parties and smashed crockery, foul language, slammed doors, a broken swing, no chance of sleep causing more foul language… and then the embrace… none of it more or less sincere than the other, all of it adding to the whole. Impossible not to love this mad relative.


More Travel:

Prince Edward Island
Niagara Region

16 thoughts on “journal notes – montreal

    1. Mostly, yes. We travelled further afield but my notes were made while sitting in the garden, and the snaps from wandering in the ‘hood. Have been there many times but this visit was especially lovely [despite the excess outdoor joie de vivre among some young people next door til 5 a.m.]. Looking forward to exploring ‘your’ neck of the woods sometime. We drove past on our way out but didn’t linger; it looks lovely though.

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