Avant Noel

11 decembre. Moins 15.
Ce soir, un souper bilingue avec mes amis: l'entrée de Québec et le dessert de Colombie-Brittanique, et, Fricot, pomme des terres et truite arc-ciel pour le plat principal.

Yesterday afternoon was perfect: kouign-aman et café au lait chez Croquembouche. Un marche le longue Grand Allée vers vieux Québec, parmi toutes les lumieres de noel, l'air froid sur les joues, une pleine lune monte le ciel au-dessous du fleuve. C'est une ville vraiment formidable.

The carillon at St. Dominics now, on the quarter hour, plays Christmas carols. In our classroom, the old heating system sounds like a carillon when it begins to activate. In September, there were 13 students, five from Columbia. Now, if six students make the class, it is a success. Only one Colombienne. La professeure continues to talk souvent de Québec and one can always count on the question, q'est-ce que tu as fait à la fin de semaine?

Earlier in the month, in a high wind, gusts to 40 kmh, squirrels capered along the wires, leapt from tree limbs, playing.

But it was sunny the day Mary de S drove us le longue de fleuve, parcours Chemin du Roy, through the villages between long narrow fields first laid out in the time of the seignuries. I loved the serveuse at Yoan Bistro in Deschambeault, her pride as she told us that nearly everything was homemade. Smoked salmon, tarte au chocolat, soupe des legumes. More pride at the fromagerie des Grondines, where we sampled cow, goat and sheep cheeses.

The week before, I had accompanied Guy and Mireille to the Christmas fair at one of the villages along this route, Cap-Santé with its huge church, circa 1755. It was begun before the guerre with the English, but not finished until after. That is why, Mireille said, that the church was not burned like everything else in the villages when the English came through in 1757. A display of creches in the church, accordion music, vin chaud, many craftsman in the little huts around the church square.La maison des tartes, with irresistible sugar pies et sucre à la creme. A cemetery near the church, as I would see the following week in Déschambeaults et les autres villages le longue Chemin du Roy.

So much more comfortable with the language now. I actually answer questions posed to me aux arrêts d'autobus. Yet, there are times I experience the sensation David Zieroth described from his dream, of feeling that there was a box around him, isolating him from other people. He wrote also: last night I had a dream that I was travelling in Europe (some unspecified place), and I couldn't remember why I was there, why I was alone, everything that usually worked had just fallen away, and I was a suddenly without will or energy and so far from home or anything meaningful. I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. It seemed impossibly far from daylight.

Mes amis anglophones say that they will always be on the outside here, and if it is the case, it is not a bad thing for a writer, despite occasional tristesse. I felt that at the last yoga class, the leaving, separation, yet walked back up Cartier avec deux autre élevès, and the sadness lifted a bit as they wished me beaux fêtes, and called, à le prochain! Yet fell into that isolated feeling again when the vendeuse au poissonnerie, after hearing my accent, asked en anglais, if I wanted her to remove the skin from the trout.
In a way it is a kindness, Marie reminded me, when people are not sure of the customer's ability, to make it easier for them. And, au Provisions, le boucher a continué en francçais quand j'ai dit, je veux essayer parler le français.

L'exploration continue.