Je ai trouvé les accents! so I continue m'aventure bilingue à la ville de Québec.
Novel revison took me to 10 am, when the door rang and my dear neighbour Russ appeared at the door with a bouquet of flowers in bright fall colours, un cadeau to apologize for not being able to take me to dinner before the symphony. What a gracious man!
Down Chemin St Foy to Holland, where the tranquille chef de benevolas at the YWCA, interviewed me for a potential spot, a strategy for speaking French suggested by Jean, whom I met at the Morrin Centre. Parcours, I notice all the balconies, some of traditional wood posts, others more ornamental, in iron, comme les balcons à l'Espagne. Another battle site, too, commemorating the battle of St Foy, that the French side won, though victory would not last long. More cannons. Balconies and guns. A sense that people are standing firm. I remember my neighbour Martin's remark about les gens de la ville de Québec, who, according to him, sit on their balconies and go nowhere. Ah, l'histoire, qu'at-il fait pour nous?
In the evening the symphony at the vraiment Grand Theatre with the mural by Jordi Bonet sculpted in cement and stone. It affected me viscerally, figures appearing to climb cement grids, in one place. Of the pieces the Quebec Symphony, featuring Janina Filaokowska, played, including Ravel's Mother Goose, Chopin, and Sibelius,#6 - which I liked because it ended with not even a whimper, let alone the usual bang - my favourite was the premiere of John Burge's Variations, which he wrote for Janina, to commemmorate th 200th anniversary of Chopin's death. After the concert, Carleen, Ron, Russ and I walked to the Concorde, and rode up to the roof rotatif for a drink. Great company. We all walked back along Laurier, under yellow leaves that looked like butterfly wings in the lamplight.
Another rainy day. In fact a tropical storm front is dumping beaucoup de pluie sur some U.S. cities, causing major flooding. It is coming down hard enough here to keep me in until afternoon, when I hop over puddles along Grand Allee to Colline Parlimentaire for a tour of the parliament buildings, including a visit to the National Assembly. This sleepy afaternoon, almost no legislators are present. More attend the hearing on Dying with Dignity, across the hall. I catch some of the debate, wish I understood more. Evidence of the Irish influece in the history of this provice take the form of gold shamrocks which alternate with symbols of England, of First Nations and the Church, in a pattern along various walls. The cross is considered more an historical than religious symbol, the guide explained. In a painting that shows an early meeting of parliamentarians,two guards hold rifles as if they were spears and tigers were about to take from either side of the room.
New month, new opportunity, at Loisirs Montcalm on Blvd Rene Levesque. I walk through the rain to attend a session on English conversation. The teacher is surprised, but lets me stay to offer, at the end of the class, conversation exchange, English for French. I like les huit, laughing, 60-plus or minus femmes in this group. They get right into the role playing the teacher devises for practice, shout corrections to one another, en français, share perplexed expressions. How much do they learn here? Comme moi, a le centre francophone de colombie-britannique, plus que elles ont connu avant. Two de les belles femmes, Marie et Mireille, make appointments with me for conversation exchange. Finally I might make some progress!
No rain aujourd h'ui. I walk down Salaberry to the building where I will find the ashtanga yoga class. Karen, l'enseignante, helps me en anglais when je ne comprend pas the instructions en français. Inspirez, expirez. Though more demanding than the yoga I have been practicing these last several years, I'm here to challenge myself in all ways. Inspirez, expirez.
Retournant à Laurier, je vois un vague bleue filling the streets. A rally pour les nordiques sur les plaines! Peut etre, 10,000 people wearing blue jerseys, some dogs with jerseys, too, and everyone waving the flags of QC, of Québec. Tous joyeux!Do people here miss the communal experience the hockey games provided, the chance to be together and cheer, or moan?
Finalement, a meeting with Marie, who needs less help with English than I need with French. We meet at les halles, Petit Quartier. Her instructions are precise and she describes her own wants and needs exactement. We agree to meet once a week, same place, same time. By the time we finish, the rally has also finished, and many constituents of the wave linger on Cartier terrasses, drinking beer, enjoying the sun
Church bells ringing, blue skies and leaves lemony against the black limbs they cling to outside Carleen's window. I understood a bit of the sermon chez St. Dominique, concernant service? The new governor general? But such a beautiful day tempted me to leave before the service finished. I found St. Joseph E where La Bordée is putting on Bonjour la Bonjour, stopped for coffee at a café across from Biliothéque Gabrielle Roy. Je n'ai pas compris when the fille de service said that she would bring the coffee to me. A moment of glumness. Hard to live as a stupid one. Easier to spend l'apres midi cooking for Annie's friend Pascal. Le poulet de Maroc. Pascal sent me my first text message, which came through on the land line, a French speaking robot informing me that Pascal serait en retard. A student in International Journalism at Laval, Pascal is worried before his career has even begun that he will become jaded like journalists he met during internships in Belgium, France, Mali, Canada. A sweet kid.
After finding my way to Laval, a pleasant meeting with Isabel in the ESL department, j'ai cherché un tapis de yoga à St. Foy. I miss so much of what people tell me, and never did find a yoga mat. Later, sitting on a bench enjoying the leaves whose colours are fruit-like in their brilliance, I watched a chestnut-backed chipmunk leap across the grass. Six semaines? My expectations may be too high.