Québec à l'automne

L'été indien. The temperature has dropped to moins 2 for several nights, the sky clear, a waxing moon. Leaves turn at different stages, most still green, but some brilliant,true scarlet in the sun, also the Virginia creeper that sprawls across the wonderful house at the corner of Salaberry and Aberdeen. In this neighbourhood, several street names honour Scots: Fraser, Aberdeen, Turnbull, Lockwell. Construction workers bang and drill, rivet, saw, slather mortar between bricks, rout sewers, repave roads. Above St. Jean, an entire block torn up to get at some underground failure. People spend weekends painting their porches. Cement trucks straddle the sidewalks. A part of the art gallery is blocked by high fences to hide the work and protect pedestrians. Cranes still tower alongside the new buildings rising up near the Grand Theâtre.

Amidst all this construction - and while the National Assembly debates the merits of opening an inquiry into corruption in the construction industry - there are signs on the street of dismantling: an historic steeple removed, sitting in front of a building, waiting for a new buidling to crown? The cement corps of some public work, like the trunk of a human body chopped so that arteries extrude from the top and the bottom.

This long weekend, Canadian Thanksgiving, Quebécers often use the extra day to buy winter clothes and tires, seal windows, erect temporary garages, plastic sheds, really, to keep the snow off their cars. So says ma professeure, who spends a good part of each class relating weather stories. Weather is not a default subject here. it is important to consult le méteo,les prévisions, she says. To leave the window open mere centimetres at night, to keep les gants, le tuque, etc ready to wear.

The cafes along Cartier still have tables out on the terraces, but plants have been moved indoors, geraniums replaced by pumpkins. At le jardin Jeanne d'arc, the Halloween displays dominate the bronze and lemon and lavender chrysanthemums that jewel the various beds.

The abundance of Île d'Orleans displayed à la Marché de Vieux Port, and nearby à Les Provisioners. Chou-fleur the colour of a cantelope, des carrottes purple, orange, yellow: apples, apples, apples. I will by a dozen Cortlands today in memory of Russ, who liked that variety best, because, he said, when you bite in, they bite back.